Food & Beverage

Oktoberfest getting pricier...with a catch


Throwing back one (or two or five) is going to be more expensive at Oktoberfest this year, but American visitors will find a welcome surprise.

For the first time, no tent at the annual event will sell liters of beer for less than 10 euros, or about $11.30. On average, prices are rising about 3.2 percent to 10.20 euros, according to the event's website.

Women wearing the traditional Bavarian Dirndls present the offical Oktoberfest beer mugs at the Oktoberfest grounds in Munich, southern Germany, on August 18, 2015.
Sven Hoppe | AFP | Getty Images

In its annual report tracking Oktoberfest fluctuations, UniCredit points out this rise has outpaced overall inflation in Germany, which inched 0.2 percent higher last month on a year-over-year basis.

"Overall, prices at the Oktoberfest stand in stark contrast to the low actual inflation and fears of deflation within the eurozone," wrote analysts in the report Wednesday.

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This is par for the course at the annual beer event, which will hold its 182nd gathering beginning Saturday. Since 1985, Oktoberfest German beer prices have risen more than 220 percent, considerably higher than the 69 percent jump in German CPI.

What hasn't skyrocketed is the number of breweries selling beer. Only six meet the event's stringent rules, which include strict adherence to Bavarian purity requirements.

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There's evidence rising prices are impacting attendance.

While the event regularly draws more than 6 million visitors per year, attendance fell last year to 6.3 million as beer prices cracked the 10 euro threshold for the first time. Sales per visitor also dropped.

This leads UniCredit analysts to an important question for beer sellers: is beer at the annual event a Giffen good—one which experiences stronger demand even as prices rise due to a lack of alternatives for cheap beer—or a normal one in which demand falls as prices rise? And will increases in beer prices continue to impact sales or is this just a temporary correction?

Analysts are betting there is more downward sales pressure to come.

Despite the ever increasing Oktoberfest prices, there's a silver lining for Americans making the trek: with the dollar's rise against the euro, the average beer price in converted terms is falling.

It's dropped to $11.52 from $12.67—savings worth yodeling about.