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Thanksgiving is a week away – have you gotten your turkey and trimmings yet? If not, be prepared for some sticker shock.

Each year, the American Farm Bureau Federation tracks just how much a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will cost. Sometimes turkey prices are up, sometimes pumpkin pie prices are down, and the final figure is a matter of curiosity, if nothing else – last year, for example, prices were up. The year before that, prices were down. And the year before than, prices were essentially unchanged.

But this year’s pricing survey is more than just a mere curiosity. Hosting Thanksgiving in 2022 could represent a major hit to your grocery budget.

The AFBF’s 37th annual survey finds that the average cost of a Thanksgiving feast for ten this year is $64.05, up more than $10 – or 20% – from last year. That’s the largest annual increase, by far, since the survey began back in 1986.

The biggest-ticket item, the turkey itself, is responsible for much of the higher overall price tag. Turkey prices are up 21%, “due to several factors beyond general inflation,” the AFBF explains. “General inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan said in a statement. But other contributing factors include supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and “a slightly smaller flock” of turkeys this year.

From pumpkin pie mix, to stuffing, to sweet potatoes, almost every menu item is higher-priced this year. Fresh cranberries are the sole exception, with prices down 14%.

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The AFBF’s volunteer shoppers who check prices do so without “taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.” So the prices this survey cites, may not be the prices you pay in store. Retailers like Walmart and ALDI have promised to freeze Thanksgiving prices – Walmart is offering “this year’s Thanksgiving meal at last year’s price,” while ALDI’s “Thanksgiving Price Rewind” will match 2019, pre-pandemic, pre-inflationary prices. And with promotions ramping up as Thanksgiving approaches, the AFBF acknowledges that “consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average.”

The problem is, many of us have already done our Thanksgiving shopping. Earlier this month, a survey from Morning Consult found that “consumers are aiming to purchase turkeys earlier this year.” Only 11% said they planned to get their turkey the week of Thanksgiving, down from 29% who said so last year. A separate report from the market research firm IRI came to a similar conclusion. “Thanksgiving shopping will take place earlier this year,” it declared. “Many consumers expect to pay more for Thanksgiving-related items this year, and with concerns surrounding inflation, shoppers are already looking for deals and will be picking up items as they see them promoted.”

Nearly three-quarters of the shoppers surveyed by Morning Consult said they plan to a buy a turkey on sale, and more than 80% will be looking for more deals and discounts overall. “Retailers and food and beverage brands can help consumers get the most for every dollar spent with sales and coupons,” Morning Consult advised. “The good news for retailers is that enticing shoppers with an appealing sale on turkeys could help score carts full of other feast fixings.”

We’re all dealing with higher prices at the grocery store, so the fact that Thanksgiving food is more expensive this year does not come as much of a surprise. Still, it comes as unwelcome news. “For many, it’s a price increase they simply cannot afford, especially when added up with the increased cost of nearly everything in our lives these days,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. Nevertheless, “while these times are tough, I firmly believe there are plenty of reasons to give thanks,” he added.

The AFBF points out that this year’s $64.05 Thanksgiving price tag amounts to less than $6.50 per person. So while prices are up, it could be worse. “It is still wonderful to live in a country where Thanksgiving supper like that is relatively affordable,” Cryan said, “and we give our thanks every year for this.”

And here’s hoping that this time next year, we’ll be giving thanks for lower prices.

Image source: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

One Comment

  1. My local LIDL is offering $30 Thanksgiving bundles with all the trimmings that feed ten.

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