Inflation is affecting even the most beloved treats, as Girl Scout cookies see a rise in price across the country. Many Girl Scout regional councils have had to increase the price of their popular cookies to offset rising costs at the two commercial bakeries that produce the treats. This means that a box of Samoas, for example, which used to cost $5, will soon be priced at $6 in many parts of the United States.
While the increase may be disappointing for consumers, it presents a valuable lesson for the young Girl Scout cookie sellers. It helps them understand the realities of running a business and dealing with economic pressures, such as inflation. Wendy Lou, the chief revenue officer for Girl Scouts of the USA, explains that this will be part of the conversation with young cookie sellers this year, including her own 7-year-old daughter.
The price increase has already been implemented by many troops on the West Coast, and it has required adjustments from both the Girl Scouts and their customers. For example, 10-year-old Madison Patstone had to memorize the cost of up to 12 boxes of cookies at the old $5-per-box price, but now, she has to adjust to the new $6 price point. Some customers are surprised to find that their purchasing power for Thin Mints isn’t what it used to be. As Madison explains, “That was one of the hard parts: telling people that inflation has come to their nostalgic cookies.”
Despite the higher prices, Girl Scout cookies remain in demand, and most customers are understanding about the increase. The price of store-bought cookies has risen 23% in the last two years, according to U.S. Labor Department data, so the 20% increase on Girl Scout cookies seems relatively modest in comparison. Most customers appreciate that the cookie sales help fund important programs for the Girl Scouts.
The proceeds from cookie sales cover about 70% of the Girl Scouts’ budget in San Diego, for example. Each council sets its own cookie prices, but neighboring councils often move together in what is referred to as the “Tagalong effect.” This year, Girl Scout councils throughout California adopted a standard cookie price of $6 a box and saw little to no drop in sales. In fact, many councils had the best cookie program since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the price increase, marketing expert Sally Lyons Wyatt, who is also a former Girl Scout, doesn’t believe it will significantly impact sales. She explains that it’s not just about the cookie itself but also the mission and tradition associated with the Girl Scout cookie program. As long as the price increase remains reasonable, it is unlikely to deter customers.
Girl Scouts sell approximately 200 million boxes of cookies each year nationwide, surpassing sales of Oreos. Although their cookie sales only last for a few months, typically between January and April, they continue to be a highly anticipated treat. As one young Girl Scout puts it, “The season isn’t very long… you’ll have to wait a whole year to get them again, so might as well just stock up.”