The Cost of Thanksgiving

The Cost of Thanksgiving


At a time of year when big turkeys and big-screen TVs come to mind, I’m blown away by the story of two women who have decided to camp outside of Best Buy in California for 22 days leading up to Black Friday. They are determined to be first in line for the TV deal that Best Buy is offering on a first-come-first-serve basis the morning of November 28th. This just might be the most extreme approaches to trying to save money on Black Friday that I have ever heard. What’s worse is that by quickly running the numbers you can see that in those 22 days that the ladies are camping outside the store they’re missing out of 600 working hours. At California’s minimum wage that’s equal to $5,400.

I can’t help wondering when hearing this, if these ladies are planning to have their families come out to the parking lot for Thanksgiving dinner this year, or if they are skipping Thanksgiving altogether for the sake of this “great” deal. These antics seem like something you’d see on TV. Maybe these ladies are angling for their own reality TV show. That’s so passé ever since they took U.S. The Apprentice off the air.

I hope before you pack up your tent to camp outside a store that you think through the numbers to be sure that not only is the deal worth it, but also your time. Our culture has become obsessed with the quickest or easiest perceived way to “save” money, and in doing so, sometimes we cut off our nose to spite our face.

I can’t go through all the finances behind this holiday weekend, but let’s look at some of the general costs most Americans are facing this weekend so you can best figure out how to stretch your Thanksgiving dollar.


Thanksgiving Dinner

Americans are expected to spend over $2 billion on Thanksgiving dinner this year, with the average amount of $54.18 spent per household. This cost of course includes the turkey, which has become the figurehead of this holiday.

Thanksgiving certainly earns its nickname of “Turkey Day.” The US has actually doubled the number of turkeys we purchase for Thanksgiving in the past 30 years. In 2013 we even imported $19 million dollar’s worth of live turkeys primarily from Canada. This year we’re apparently experiencing a shortage of turkeys, but I don’t expect that to pull down the average of three pounds of turkey each American consumes on Thanksgiving.

There are of course additional costs for the classic Thanksgiving sides. If you are still looking for ideas on what to bring to your family gathering this year, check out The New York Times’ list of sides inspired by the different states.  With an average of just of $50, Thanksgiving dinner hopefully doesn’t weigh on your pocket too heavily.


Black Friday

If you are a big fan of the shopping associated with Thanksgiving, there are a few trends to watch. Last year we saw 92 million people actually shop on Black Friday, and spend a total of $57 billion.

Accenture released a study that shows that 66% of Americans are planning to join in the shopping frenzy on Black Friday. That’s actually up 11% from last year.

This research also said that almost half of America is planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day!

They also found that Millennials are more likely to participate and spend more than their older cohorts this year. However, the study also notes that they’re more likely to do so from their laptop or mobile device. You won’t catch them standing in line for days ahead of time.

Of course, technology is playing a huge role in this year’s Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza. While Cyber Monday has been going strong for years now, many of those in the Accenture study said they would be using technology to facilitate either finding good deals, finding where items are in stocks, or for just skipping a physical store all together.

The Uber Economy strikes again!

Here’s another bonus that all of us in Atlanta can take advantage of this week to help save a few dollars. If you’re feeding a small army (or an exceptionally hungry group of people) and are going to spend $1,000 on food anyway, if you shop at Kroger and then fill up your gas tank while you’re at it, you can save up to a full dollar per gallon. (For those who are closer to the average of $50, those Kroger points will still ad up!). With Georgia’s average price per gallon already under $3/gallon, you could end up paying less than $2/gallon. What is this, the 90’s? Nope, just one more way to avoid getting crushed by the cost of Thanksgiving.


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