Lunch Prices Stabilize in Czech Republic After Year of Increases

Lunch prices at restaurants, which rose by up to a fifth year-on-year, have stabilized in recent months. In March, people in the Czech Republic paid an average of CZK 182 for lunch, just one crown more than in December last year. Hospitality establishments have passed on higher costs to prices, and people are no longer willing to pay more, according to transaction data from Gastro Pass Card meal vouchers by Sodexo Benefits.

“From the payment data of meal card users, prices increased continuously every month last year. At the beginning of 2022, the average expenditure on lunch was CZK 157, while at the end of the year, it was CZK 180. The most significant jump of more than CZK 5 came in September. However, the growth began to slow, and changes have been rather cosmetic since December,” said Jan Michelfeit from Sodexo Benefits.

During the first quarter of this year, prices have risen minimally. While the average lunch price in the Czech Republic in March was CZK 182, it was CZK 181.40 a month earlier and CZK 180.40 in December last year. According to Michelfeit, the main reason is that the autumn price increase helped restaurant operators catch up with rising input costs, and people are no longer willing to accept high prices.

Luboš Kastner, an expert on gastronomy from the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurs of the Czech Republic, agrees that lunch prices will not move for some time. “The farmers and suppliers who raised prices the most were quite scared. They understood it could not grow indefinitely, and the price spiral slowed. Now, everyone is under great pressure in the spring, and no one will raise prices much, so I expect a price stagnation,” Kastner said.

Like in previous months, lunches were the most expensive in Prague in March, where people paid an average of CZK 203.50. “It’s the highest in the country, but the average lunch price in the capital has remained at this level for the fourth month in a row,” Michelfeit said. In Central Bohemia, which has been in second place for a long time, the average lunch cost CZK 196.90 in March. In February 2023, it was 30 crowns less, and compared to December 2022, the price increased by CZK 1.20.

The cheapest lunches are in the Vysočina and Ústí nad Labem regions, where menus can be obtained for CZK 40 less than in Prague. In a year-on-year comparison, the average lunch price in Czech restaurants increased by 13 percent, or CZK 21.50.

Despite the stabilization in lunch prices, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the closure of many restaurants and cafes, and many establishments are still struggling to recover.