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The Margin: ‘If you’re just going to have chips and salsa, it’s not going to break the bank’: Super Bowl party hosts get hit by inflation — chicken wing prices are up 26%

Regardless of whether you think the Cincinnati Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams will win this year’s Super Bowl, there seems to be one prediction that’s safe to make: Your game-day gathering is going to cost a lot more because of inflation.

With consumer prices rising 7.5% since last January, the fastest pace in 40 years, Americans are pessimistic about their purchasing power, and the latest University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment fell to a low not seen in a decade.

Add to that this Wells Fargo
WFC,
+1.51%

study: It says the price of Super Bowl parties could be up to 14% higher versus 2021. The study looked at the cost of popular party items, from chips and dips to chicken wings, using government and other data.

The big culprits are anything and everything meat-related, Wells Fargo chief agricultural economist Dr. Michael Swanson says. Chicken wings alone are running as much as 26% higher. Steaks are up 23%. And hamburgers are up 17%.

The increases are particularly tied to supply-chain issues, an ongoing problem since the start of the pandemic. “There’s no predictability left in the system,” says Swanson.

““There’s no predictability left in the system.””

— Wells Fargo economist Dr. Michael Swanson on how supply-chain issues are affecting prices of Super Bowl party staples

Another factor, Swanson says: Many Americans are actually in a better financial position these days — the U.S. economy grew by nearly 7% in the fourth quarter, after all — and that means they may be willing to spend more. In turn, retailers have fewer reasons to discount. “There’s a lot of money chasing those wings,” says Swanson.

Which is not to say all items on a Super Bowl shopping list may be more expensive. Such staples as potato chips and avocados are up only about 1%, according to Wells Fargo. Carrots and celery are running the same as in 2021. (In other words, it may be a good time to go vegan.)

And what about drinks? Soda in 2-liter bottles is running 12% higher (the increase is a more modest 6% with 12-packs of cans). Beer is up 4%. And wine is up 3%.

Uncredited

So, while the overall hit may be 14% for a Super Bowl party that incorporates many staples, there are clearly ways to save. “If you’re just going to have chips and salsa, it’s not going to break the bank,” Swanson says.

Not that many Americans may care. The Super Bowl only comes once a year — and many missed out on having their usual gatherings last year because of the pandemic.

Briana Bournique Beaty, a resident of North Palm Beach, Fla., is one of those who’s planning on going big this year, regardless of the rising costs. “You’re not taking away my Super Bowl party,” says Beaty, who plans on spending about $500 for this year’s spread, wings included.

““You’re not taking away my Super Bowl party.””

— North Palm Beach, Fla., resident Briana Bournique Beaty, who’s planning to spend $500 on her game-day gathering

Still, the higher costs could pose a challenge for restaurants and bars, which typically do a big business on game day both for takeout and in-person dining and drinking.

Jarrod Fox, managing partner with TailGate, an outdoor sports bar and grill in Brooklyn, N.Y., says his food costs are up at least 20% since last year’s Super Bowl. And his chicken-wing suppliers are charging as much as 50% more.

But Fox says he can only pass on so much of the expense to consumers — otherwise, they’ll balk at coming to his establishment. As a result, this year’s game is not quite the cause for celebration.

“Inflation is really eating into the profitability,” Fox says.

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