Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Thanksgiving ’08 will gobble up more of your dollars

November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving dinner promises to take a bigger bite of your wallet this year.

“Thanksgiving food prices are up about 6 percent compared to last year,” said Corinne Alexander, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

Alexander said grocery store prices are increasing at a pace of 7.6 percent, compared with restaurants’ rise of 4.5 percent.

Still, consumers planning to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal at home should find bargains on several holiday staples, including the symbol of the season: turkey.

The estimated wholesale price for turkey is 3 cents to 7 cents per pound higher than in 2007, driven by higher export demand for U.S. turkeys.

Still, Alexander said “turkey is a favorite loss leader item for grocery stores, where they’ll offer you a coupon or a discount to give you a really great price on turkey,” Alexander said.

Grocers typically offer virtually free turkey in hope that shoppers will pick up the remaining fixings for their meals at the same time.

Alexander said cranberries and sweet potatoes — also Thanksgiving staples — should be a bargain this year.

But she predicts that ham will be more expensive, even as other experts expect ample supplies and declining exports to push prices lower.

Pass the stuffing!


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