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A Starbucks Favorite is Changing (Consumers Won't be Happy)

A seasonal favorite is likely to return with a significant difference this fall.

If it feels like inflation has come for everything you hold dear, you're not alone. Domestic flights are up 47% since January, one in every four marijuana retailers say that they plan to raise prices in the next year, and even fast food is getting pretty expensive.

Those daily coffee outings are also hitting the wallet hard.  A report from data analytics firm Placer.ai found that June foot traffic to Starbucks (SBUX)  and Dunkin  (DNKN)  dropped by a respective 4.1% and 6.6% as more people try the "latte factor" (a financial concept, popularized by writer David Bach, not having a latte every day and seeing what you save over a few months) out of necessity.

Instagram Leaks a PSL Price Hike

Given that inflation is already pushing some to visit less, Starbucks may have wanted to keep its price increases on the downlow.

The internet, however, had other plans when snack food vlogger Markie Devo leaked the chain's new fall menu on Instagram.

Along with returning classics like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato and launching a new Owl Cake Pop, the chain is reportedly raising the price of its famous Pumpkin Spice Latte by 80 cents.

Most recently, a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte cost $4.95 while a Venti one went for $5.25.

"Note the PSL is going up by 80 cents," @markie_devo wrote on Twitter ominously. "They're giving their employees a raise by raising the price."

Starbucks did not immediately return TheStreet's request for confirmation on a potential price increase. 

Along with the range of new and old-but-beloved seasonal items, the leaked menu announced new merchandise such as a woodland tumbler and a cold drinking cup in a periwinkle color.

While Starbucks has not yet announced when it will bring back its signature mix of coffee and pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove flavors, many are already saying goodbye to summer and awaiting pumpkin spice season.

A survey from business intelligence company Morning Consult also found that 25% of Americans feel that late August is the perfect time to start seeing pumpkin spice products.

The Nabisco branch of the larger Mondelez  (MDLZ)  food producer also plans to start selling Oreo Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies from August 15.

"I don't think 'too soon' is a thing right now," Nic Climer, the executive creative director of the RAPP marketing agency that develops seasonal products for various fast food chains, told Morning Consult. "[...] If pumpkin spice is your thing, and your audience loves it, people need that extra zing in their life right now."

What Has Inflation Not Ruined? (Like, Seriously)

While an 80-cent price hike may seem small in the greater scheme of things, food increases in particular have really added up — while the consumer price index rose by 8.5% between July 2021 and 2022, food prices are up over 13% year-over-year.  

Some staples, like eggs and avocados, are up by more than 30%. 

As a result, many Americans are combatting higher prices by cutting back where they can. A study from Omaha-based insurance company Breeze found that 73% of U.S. households have cut back on restaurants or takeout, 62% spent less on social outings while 57% bought fewer groceries groceries overall. 

Vacations and other trips, gas and even debt payments were other areas in which Americans reported spending less amid inflation.