Thanksgiving might be a time for gathering, feasting and giving thanks, but the holiday also comes with its share of preparation: planning, shopping, packing, traveling, cooking.
And while there are plenty of things to be grateful for this year, the price of all that preparation sure isn’t one of them. From flights to food to other festivities, consumers will be shelling out a little extra cash this year for the same goods and services they got last year.
Here’s just how much more moolah you’re going to have to give while giving thanks:
Step one, of course, is simply getting wherever you’re going this Thanksgiving — and that could come at a steep price. Airline industry officials say fares could end up costing as much as 9% more than they did a year ago. An average domestic round-trip ticket should come in at $386.
One reason: Airlines are facing rising costs. The average price for jet fuel was $3.11 per gallon in October versus only $2.97 a year ago — nearly a 5% climb. Airlines have been passing some of that increase to consumers.
At the same time, more people are expected to travel this holiday season. As The Wall Street Journal put it: “Demand has increased with a slowly improving economy and pent-up hunger among many consumers after several years of deferring trips.”
Another source found that the average price of a ticket has already climbed 5% and will spike more drastically as the holiday approaches. Last-minute bookers could be saddled with a round-trip fare costing as much as $600.
Unfortunately, that makes for a large chunk of this year’s travelers. A Hotwire.com poll found that as of late last month, 78% of U.S. adults planning to travel for the holiday had not yet booked arrangements.
Hotel prices have also gained sharply and are expected to climb even more as the actual holidays near. A spokesman for Hilton Worldwide expressed that demand is “up significantly compared to previous years.”
Of course, not everyone has such extensive travel plans. For those who simply have to drive to a relative’s house for dinner, the Thanksgiving outlook is bright. Gas prices, after their summer spike, have been falling dramatically lately. In the past month, the cost of a gallon of gas has shed around 40 cents, bringing it in the same range as year-ago prices.
Even the much-anticipated moment when families gather around the table to enjoy a meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and more will cost slightly more.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a traditional meal large enough to serve 10 diners, plus leftovers, will cost just under 1% more this year — a rise of 28 cents to a total of $49.48. Considering the terrible drought, that number seems more than manageable. But it also comes on top of last year’s record 13% increase — the biggest climb in two decades.
The main culprit this year is the rising price of turkey. A 16-pound bird is going for $22.33, or $1.39 per pound. That’s 4 cents per pound more than last year.
However, prices for whipping cream, whole milk, fresh cranberries and pumpkin pie mix have all fallen since last year. Plus, many retailers locked into prices before the drought struck. So while sky-high corn has doubled the cost of producing one pound of meat lately, that tough reality has yet to fully hit consumers.
Consumers won’t be immune forever, though. Retail food prices are expected to be around 3% to 4% higher in 2013, while dairy and meat could see an even bigger jump. For now, this year’s slight spike in food costs is actually something consumers should be thankful for.
Need a way to get the kids out of your hair while you prepare for visitors? Stuck entertaining distant family members who you hardly ever see or don’t really want to talk to? Feeling lazy after the Thanksgiving food coma takes hold? Want a relaxing way to enjoy your long weekend — or procrastinate cleaning up the holiday mess?
The many people who answer “yes” to these questions before and after all the holiday preparations take over may opt for an easy entertainment option: going to the movies.
I think you know what’s coming … that’s not cheap either.
Movie tickets are anything but a deal these days. In fact, the average ticket price hit an all-time high of $8.12 in the second quarter of the year — up from the previous peak of $8.06 the year before. Last quarter, though, the average price slid as fewer movies were seen in 3D — thanks in part to the popularity of non-3D box-office smash The Dark Knight Rises.
But highly anticipated movies coming to theaters around Thanksgiving, including Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians, are indeed offered in 3D. Taking the family to them next week could add up — especially if you want to nibble on some overpriced popcorn and candy as well.
In the end, when the long weekend winds to a close, your wallet may be feeling the post-Thanksgiving squeeze just as much as your waistline is. From food to flights to fun, the holiday could sure gobble up your paycheck in a hurry.