Folks rushing to shop for and prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu for next Thursday should take a moment to count their blessings.
This year, consumers get a double dose of good news between falling gas prices and stable food prices.
Yes, the cost of a Thanksgiving meal has remained relatively stable from last year’s prices — a welcome change from the 13% extra consumers had to spend in 2011 compare to the year before.
The average Thanksgiving dinner will cost $49.04, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. That’s 44 cents less than the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu a year ago.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu used in the calculations is meant to serve 10 people and includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkin-pie mix and milk made up the biggest increases in this year’s Thanksgiving meal index. But the centerpiece of the feast, along with other price drops, offset those gains.
A 16-pound turkey only costs an average of $21.76 this year — 3 cents less per pound than the main course of Thanksgiving dinner cost last year, thanks in part to higher turkey production.
Plus, that pricetag of $50 or so for the Thanksgiving meal is just the average. Walmart (WMT), for example, recently said customers could get a comparable Thanksgiving meal for less than $35 thanks to its price-match program.
For the cherry on top, gas prices remain reasonable as well. While some experts say gas prices are close to bottoming out for the year, they are still 20 cents cheaper than they were a year ago.
The question, of course, is whether cheaper prices on necessities will make shoppers loosen up their purse strings for the holiday shopping season. Black Friday — which actually begins right after Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner for many retailers — will mark the start of what many expect to be a subpar shopping season.
Alyssa Oursler is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace. As of this writing, she did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.