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Why McDonald's Prices Vary Drastically Depending On The Location

Dipping McDonald's fries in ketchup
Dipping McDonald's fries in ketchup - 8th.creator/Shutterstock

While rising prices and a shortage in labor have caused restaurants to make some drastic changes to their menu pricing, McDonald's franchise owners are most concerned with covering their own expenses, which vary drastically depending on where they are located. Financial strategist David Klyman told HuffPost that "commercial property prices, gas prices, interest rates, car prices, health insurance cost, [and] flight costs since you have to fly food around the country" all contribute to the increasingly high prices at various McDonald's locations.

None of these McDonald's locations is run by one sole proprietor. While the corporate office has a say in how locations are run, a majority of the decisions, including menu prices, are made by individual franchise owners.

McDonald's allows their franchise owners autonomy over many business decisions, including what promotions to participate in and how prices are set. Because of this, two McDonald's locations within the same area, even locations on the same street, will likely have different menu prices.

With 13,541 locations in the United States alone, the popular fast-food chain has recently gotten more expensive than ever. Consumer data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the price of eating out has spiked 5.4% in one year, and inflation is not solely to blame.

Read more: The Ultimate American Fast Food Restaurants Ranked

The Most Expensive McDonald's Location Might Not Be Where You Expect

McDonald's drive-thru menu
McDonald's drive-thru menu - Raisa Nastukova/Shutterstock

McDonald's franchise owners in different parts of the country very likely do not have the same expenses to cover. Rent prices, wage requirements, and other costs that vary depending on geographical location will fluctuate.

For example, McDonald's franchise owners in California raised prices after new wage laws were enacted, and an order of McNuggets and fries became even more expensive for customers in the Golden State. Individual franchise decisions also explain why some McDonald's have random, unofficial menu items for sale at certain locations.

If you're wondering how dramatically prices fluctuate between each McDonald's location, now you can compare without driving to each location and examining their menus. McCheapest.com was created by a curious marketing executive named Sacha Fournier. The site reports the price of a Big Mac at (almost) every McDonald's in the United States.

Surprisingly, the most expensive Big Mac is located in Lee, Massachusetts, costing around $8. To get the cheapest Big Mac in the U.S., you'll need to take a trip to Stingler, Oklahoma, where you'll only pay about $3.49. Interestingly, the website not only shows the price of each Big Mac depending on location, but it also shows recent price increases on the product.

When isolating just the island of Manhattan in New York City, one downtown location prices its Big Mac at nearly $5.99 with no recent price change. A second location just a few blocks away shows a recent increase of $0.20, charging about $6.19 for a Big Mac.

For Many Customers, McDonald's Is No Longer Be The Cheapest Meal Option

McDonald's app on phone
McDonald's app on phone - 8th.creator/Shutterstock

From rural Oklahoma to the urban jungle of New York City, McDonald's customers everywhere feel the strain of price increases. In a Reddit thread, one user shared their frustrations over how expensive McDonald's has become in recent years.

According to the user, "Everything keeps going up in price every week but my pay has stayed the same forever. Each paycheck feels like it has less buying power than the last." Another commenter agreed, saying, "It's actually cheaper for me to eat out at an actual sit down restaurant than to get fast food." While some die-hard fans claim that utilizing the McDonald's app will score you the deals that were once available on most menus, others remain frustrated, arguing, "I just wanted to order something cheap and quick -- not go through subpar coupons."

Many consumers hit their breaking point with McDonald's when various deals, such as the $1 any size soda, went up in price, and a single meal that was once less than $10 now costs close to $20. One user on the public forum joked that no matter how McDonald's franchise owners change operations, hike up prices, and alter menu offerings, one thing will always remain: "The ice cream machine will still be perpetually broken."

Read the original article on Daily Meal.