Presumably if you’re in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, you already have your turkey. You may even have gotten caught up in the low-price excitement, and picked up an extra one for later (or more than one, depending on how much freezer space you have). But did you know you might actually be able to find a cheaper turkey some other time – like, say, July?

There’s a misconception among some, that the price of turkeys is at its lowest the day after Thanksgiving – similar to how Halloween candy and Christmas decorations go on clearance as soon as the holiday is over. But it takes days for a frozen turkey to thaw. So following the faulty logic that turkey prices should fall after the peak selling period, frozen turkeys would have been slashed to sell long before Thanksgiving actually arrives. Plus, this is only the beginning of turkey season – anything that didn’t sell for Thanksgiving may still sell for Christmas.

Besides, turkey prices are already so low, how much lower can they even go?


That, though, brings up another misconception – that the retail price of turkeys is always lowest in November. The New York Times recently published a convincing chart that shows the average retail price of whole frozen turkeys plummets in November. While accurate, that’s a bit misleading. The chart uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show that the retail price of turkey consistently drops each November, which is true. But averaging out the data doesn’t take into account that prices usually dip at other, different, times each year.

The same Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that, so far this year, the lowest retail price per pound for a frozen whole turkey was $1.39 – and that was in July. Last year, the lowest price was in December. In 2011, it was January, and in 2010, February. So if you pay retail, you can have a Valentine’s Day or Fourth of July feast for less than what you pay at Thanksgiving.

But there’s the rub – if you play your cards right, you won’t ever have to pay retail price for a turkey at Thanksgiving. The argument over whether retail prices are lowest in November or not, is moot when you consider the specials and sales that everyone has this time of year. Many stores have been selling turkeys for less than 50 cents a pound – some are even giving them away if you qualify by buying other things – and retail prices don’t account for such special promotions and discounts.

So are turkey prices always lowest in November? Yes, and no. You’re not going to see sale-priced turkeys going for pennies per pound in July. But if you don’t want to have to jump through the hoops of minimum spending requirements and other strings that grocery stores attach to their cheap turkey deals in November, you can have a Thanksgiving-style meal in the middle of summer for less than what you might pay for it now.

Especially if you’ve already jumped through the hoops and bought an extra one.

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