What We Spend on Thanksgiving – And Other Holiday Facts

Happy Thanksgiving from the Spend Matters Family! In honor of the holiday, we feature a special news roundup T-Day edition – focusing on spending and the supply chain (of course). How much do Americans spend on the holiday? Have you heard of a supposed “turkey shortage?” We clear that up and offer some other fun or lesser-known Thanksgiving day facts.

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Consumer Spending

Americans will spend a combined $2.3 billion on food this Thanksgiving, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The agency also suspects consumers will spend a bit more on their turkey this year than last. That’s because US turkey production is down - totaling 4.2 billion pounds during the first three quarters of 2014, a drop of 3.3% from 2013. The USDA also predicts the wholesale price per pound for a frozen turkey to be $1.12 to $1.16 around Thanksgiving - up 9 cents from the same time last year.

Butter prices, however, have been falling most recently. Thankfully, the staple for all holidays (think cookies, pies, mashed potatoes) had previously hit high prices of nearly $5/lb. a few months ago. Thankfully, those prices are down, averaging about $2.53/lb.

It may cost more to cook your Thanksgiving meal this year, as energy and natural gas prices are up. Experts say they are about 6% higher than last year. Electricity, too, is up 3%.

Travel Plans

There’s good news for those who plan to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday: gas prices are down. Drivers are likely to see the lowest gas prices at the pump since 2009. As of last week, 80% of US gas stations were selling a gallon of gas for less than $3.

And, a recent Gasbuddy.com survey showed that among those going out of town to spend the holiday with family or friends - 92 percent will be traveling by car. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com, thinks more people will drive this year because of the cheaper gas prices.

“Notably lower gas prices have brought a sense of relief, perhaps some optimism, and also a sense of caution,” he said.

Other T-Day Facts:

  • Americans will eat about 46 million turkeys this holiday (more than consumed on Christmas and Easter)
  • Turkey does not actually make you sleepy. A serving of turkey does not spark enough serotonin in your body to put you to sleep.
  • Surprisingly, November is not National Turkey Month. June is National Turkey Lovers Month.
  • 98% percent of imported turkeys in the US come from Canada. Where do some of our sweet potatoes we consume on T-Day come from? The Dominican Republic, which produces 51 percent of the imported food.
  • The US’ supply of cranberries - another popular item on the dinner table this time of year - mostly comes from Wisconsin and Massachusetts. The 2 states produced 450 million pounds and 210 million pounds, respectively, of cranberries last year.
  • The top turkey processors in the US are: Butterball, Jennie-O and Cargill.

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