Local eateries hit hard as employees plan to cut lunch outings by 50%

UserTesting (NYSE: USER), a video-based human insight company, conducted a survey to study the effects of the rising costs of lunch items due to inflation, which is being called Lunchflation, on Australian employees as they plan their return to the workplace.

85% of respondents believe lunchflation to be a serious concern as prices of food items are continuing to rise. The sharp increase in the prices of popular lunch choices like sandwiches, tacos, salads, coffee, etc. has altered the preferences of Australian employees.

90% mentioned that coffee has observed the highest jump in the prices when compared to other food items. Other lunch options to follow this trend were salads and sandwiches.

What were the insights of Lunchflation?

Lunchflation – Not a deterrent to going back to office

Nearly 3 out of 5 respondents (55%) indicated that lunchflation doesn’t affect their return to office decisions. Some of the reasons include the fact that some companies have made it mandatory for their employees to come back into the office, so it’s not a matter of choice.

Though, as a cost-saving measure, employees responded that they would be open to the option of bringing home-cooked meals and reducing the frequency of lunch outings.

Office-goers plan to reduce their lunch outings

One of the interesting insights drawn out from this survey was that office-goers indicated a stark reduction in their frequency of eating out during office lunch hours when compared with the pre-pandemic period. 55% of the respondents said that they bought outside lunch 3-4 times a week, while today, about 50% would like to go out only 1-2 times a week.

One of the reasons for the changing eating habits was that the wages were not keeping up with the rising inflation. As a result of the reduced frequency of eating out, the business of the cafes, restaurants, food vans and small businesses could see an impact to their bottom line.

Lunch provisions at work: A pull factor for employees

Nearly 4 out of 5 (70%) respondents reported that they would be more inclined to get back to office if their employers offer provisions for lunch. The reasons included cost-saving for employees, not having to leave the office at lunch and waiting in lines to purchase food.

When asked about their preferences for lunch, the options ranged from a completely free lunch to employee discounts or coupons for local establishments. If free lunches were offered, many called out their desire for healthy food options.