At the grocery store, shoppers have seen food prices increase at their fastest pace in decades. Yet the price of one hot, juicy, spit-roasted favorite hasn’t budged at several top chains: rotisserie chickens.
Despite a 16.4% annual increase in chicken prices rotisserie chickens remain $4.99 at Costco (COST) and BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ). At Sam’s Club they cost a penny less than that. Meijer still sells its rotisserie chicken for $5.99, while Giant Eagle has kept it at $6.99 and Publix at $7.39.
There’s a strategy behind these stores’ decision to keep rotisserie chicken prices steady — and it signals a lot about how grocers are trying to manage inflation while still holding onto their shoppers. The rotisserie chicken is a prized item for supermarkets because it pulls customers into stores. Typically, customers will shop around and buy more than just a chicken for dinner when they visit.
Companies want to stay competitive on rotisserie chicken prices and are willing to lose money selling them even as production costs rise. It’s called a “loss leader” for a reason: stores can can raise prices on other goods to make up for these losses. “Once [customers] are in the store, they can fill out the rest of their basket, which the store might make a higher margin on,” said Ernest Baskin, an associate professor in the department of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University.