We’re all feeling the pinch from inflation. Across the U.S. food prices have skyrocketed since the beginning of Covid, and one of the most often used measures to monitor the price of food is the Big Mac Index.
The reason is Big Macs are ubiquitous across the world with the same ingredients, so seeing how much they cost in a given place gives you a sense of what your “purchasing power” is. That is to say, your money goes a lot further in a place selling $3 instead of $6 Big Macs!
With the recent news of Big Mac meals costing up to $18 in America, it got us thinking, how does Seattle compare? We dived into the numbers behind Seattle’s Big Macs and how they compare to the rest of the country.
How Much Do Big Macs Cost Across the Country?
According to a study from SavingSpot, the most expensive state for Big Macs is Hawaii, where they cost $5.31 on average. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Mississippi, where Big Macs average just $3.91. Washington state is more expensive than average, with Big Macs costing $4.67.
States with the most expensive Big Macs are probably what you’d expect. They’re generally expensive states with the highest labor costs like:
- Hawaii: $5.31
- New York: $5.23
- New Jersey: $5.19
- California: $5.11
- Maryland: $5.03
Of course, in rare cases, prices can get very expensive. A Tweet recently went viral showing the cost of a Big Mac meal (which includes fries and a drink) going for $17.99 at a Connecticut rest stop.
Now, obviously places like rest stops or airports will typically mark up menu items beyond what you’d normally find, but the author of the tweet went on to find Big Macs going for as high as $8.29 at Mcdonald’s locations in nearby Massachusetts.
Does Seattle Have the Most Expensive Big Macs in America?
The cost of a Big Mac in McDonald’s across Seattle is about $6.39. Most locations price Big Macs from around $6 to $6.50, here’s a selection of how Big Macs are priced across the city:
- Downtown (1530 3rd Ave): $6.39
- University District (5146 25th Ave NE): $6.29
- Central District (2336 25th Ave S): $6.49
- Northgate (2147 Northgate Way): $6.39
- West Seattle (3003 California Ave SW): $5.99
For comparison, a quick look at suburban locations reveals cheaper prices like $5.69 in Bellevue and $5.59 in Fife.
So, McDonald’s in the city of Seattle cost about 37% more than the average price for Washington state. In addition, a Big Mac in the city of Seattle costs about 13% more than locations we checked in the suburbs of Seattle.
If Seattle were its own state, it would far surpass Hawaii ($5.31 Big Mac average) for the title of most expensive Big Macs in the United States. However, as we saw earlier there are McDonald’s locations in the Northeast United States charging as much as $8.29, so the Settle locations are not the most expensive Big Macs in America.
Why Are Big Macs More Expensive in Seattle?
The simple answer to why Big Macs cost more in Seattle is labor costs. The average McDonald’s franchise makes a profit of about $150,000 off $2.7 million in sales. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of room for added costs in those numbers, that’s just a 6% profit margin!
With McDonald’s stores on average requiring about 1,000 hours of labor per store each week, if the average pay is $3 per hour higher than another location, that leads to added costs of $156,000 per year. ($3 per hour X 1,000 hours per week X 52 weeks in a year).
This shows you, if McDonald’s in locations with higher labor costs didn’t raise their prices, they’d go bankrupt! With the minimum wage in Seattle set at $18.69 (157% higher than the Federal minimum wage and near the highest in the country), you can why McDonald’s in the city are more expensive.
Of course, these higher prices come with the trade-off of higher quality of life for workers, but we’re not here to discuss the political side, we just wanted to see if Seattle had the most expensive Big Macs!