Here's what will cost you more — and less — for the big Thanksgiving feast
As friends and families gather around the dinner table later this week, some will be giving thanks for lower inflation.
Grocery prices are still high, but they're not climbing as fast as they had been. And the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving feast has actually come down a little bit from last year.
The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the total cost of a Thanksgiving meal for 10this year is $61.16. That's 4.5% lower than last year, but still the second highest total since the Farm Bureau began tracking prices in 1986.
Here's a look at some of the traditional favorites that will cost more — and less — for Thursday's feast.
Turkey prices have indeed fallen
Turkey, of course, is the at the center of many Thanksgiving traditions — and there's good news: Prices have fallen.
"There's a lot of turkey available right now," says Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist at Wells Fargo. "They just have to price it down to move it."
The average price of a 16 pound turkey in early November was $27.35, according to the Farm Bureau — a drop of 5.6% from a year ago.
Many stores offer additional discounts on turkey in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Cranberries are cheaper — but only if they are fresh
Turkey is not the only relative bargain on the Thanksgiving menu.
Fresh cranberry prices have dropped dramatically this year, thanks to a bumper crop. But people who prefer canned cranberries — the kind where you can still see the ridges of the can even when it's on the plate — may have to pay more — as a result of higher processing and packaging costs.
"The entire canned market is up, whether you're talking about beans or cranberries or pumpkins," Swanson says. "Can prices really shot up."
The price of canned goods could go even higher next year, if the Biden administration slaps new tariffs on imported steel used in making cans.
"We've been pleased that the Department of Commerce has held off on those tariffs for the most part," says David Chavern, CEO of the Consumer Brands Association. "But there's going to be a final determination at the beginning of 2024 that we're watching very closely."
But groceries are still expensive
Some of the money shoppers save on turkey this year may get gobbled up elsewhere.
Sweet potato prices are slightly higher than last year. And pumpkin pie filling is also more expensive.
Grocery prices overall have risen 2.1% in the last 12 months, according to the Labor Department, following an increase of 12.4% in the previous year.
"That's the cost of living," said Angelina Murray, standing outside a supermarket in Washington, D.C., a few days before Thanksgiving. "Nothing we can do until prices come down. We're just going to have to deal."
Then again, some things are still worth paying for
Some shoppers told NPR they are cutting corners in preparing for Thursday's meal — opting for store-branded products, for example, instead of more expensive national brands.
But most said Thanksgiving is a time for counting blessings, not hunting for bargains.
Carrie Murray was pleasantly surprised to find some discounts in the produce department, even if she had to pay more for staples such as olive oil.
"Things that are expensive —it's the stuff that has been expensive for a while," Murray said, loading groceries into the back of her car with Colton Parker.
"Looking at the receipt you say, 'Oh wow,'" Parker agreed. "But you know, it's for families. It's for the holidays."
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