Consumers ramped up restaurant spending during the first half of 2021. Restaurant sales posted an increase in June, as consumers continued to burn off their pent-up demand for socialization and experiences, according to the National Restaurant Association. Restaurants registered total sales of $70.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up 2.3% from May’s sales volume, and represented the fifth solid increase in the last six months.

Driven by the steady gains during the first half of 2021, restaurant sales in June were nearly $4.4 billion, or 6.6% above the February 2020 pre-pandemic sales volume of $66.2 billion.

However, consumers are also paying more to eat out. Rising food costs caused by inflation are forcing many restaurants to choose between eating the increased costs, raising prices or removing items from their menus altogether. Average menu prices have increased more than four percent in the last year.

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