Lunch in a restaurant in the first half of June costs an average of CZK 163, or CZK 28 more than in 2020, according to Sodexo Benefity. Since the beginning of the year, lunch prices have been rising by one or two crowns every month. This is according to an analysis of payments made with Sodexo Benefity’s meal voucher cards. The company published the results in a press release.
People in Prague spent the most money on a lunch meal in a restaurant in the first half of this month, namely CZK 190. On the other hand, the cheapest, on average 147 crowns, was spent on businesses in the Karlovy Vary region.
According to Sodexo Benefity, employers often contribute CZK 100 per day to workers’ meals. Still, the company said that people no longer eat lunch for that amount anywhere in the country. In most regions, even the most tax-advantaged meal voucher, worth CZK 150 this year, is not enough to pay for a midday meal.
“The Income Tax Act allows companies to deduct a maximum of 55 percent of the price of a meal voucher from their taxes. The employees often pay the remaining part. Still, companies can, of course, reimburse their people for a higher amount, but without the tax discount on the employer’s side,” said Jan Michelfeit from Sodexo Benefity.
According to Michelfeit, the prices of lunches in catering establishments have been rising continuously for almost a year. Restaurants used the reserves they built up to cover losses due to forced closures related to the coronavirus pandemic, but now they can’t afford to bear all the rising costs, he said.
But at the same time, he said, they are not passing on the total cost of the higher expenses in prices to customers. “As the statistics show, prices for agricultural producers have increased by almost 40 percent year-on-year, and energy prices for corporates have tripled in a year,” he said.
Representatives of restaurateurs had previously pointed out that people had gotten out of the habit of going to restaurants for lunch during the pandemic when they often worked from home. Even with the current cost of living increases, they now often bring their food to the office. The decline in diners and sales at lunchtimes is confirmed by Sodexo Benefits data, with around 30 percent in 2019 compared to pre-crisis levels.