That traditional Thanksgiving dinner will cost a little less year thanks to lower turkey and milk prices, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau. But before the feast can be digested, retailers promise to deliver a huge helping of pre-Black Friday bargains.
The 28th Annual Farm Bureau survey indicates $42.63 will feed a family of 10 this year, which is a 5.5% savings from a year ago.
The statewide average is based on responses volunteers who surveyed food prices at 11 grocery stores and supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 12 items included in the meal. They are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.
“The fact the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is more than $2 lower than last year remains a testament to the efficiencies of our food production system,” said Randy Veach, Arkansas Farm Bureau President.
He said the savings are somewhat remarkable given the drought many farmers have endured the past several years. Food prices in the Natural State came in 13% cheaper than the $49.04 average reported in the national survey.
“Lower prices on turkey and sweet potatoes account for much of the price difference from a year ago. Turkey supplies have increased this year due to lower feed prices, while sweet potatoes benefited from this year’s milder growing conditions. Both of these items were negatively impacted by the heat and drought in 2012,” said Travis Justice, chief economist for Arkansas Farm Bureau.
After rising sharply two years ago, the average price of a 16-pound young tom turkey this year fell $2.26 to $15.59 (98 cents per pound). Turkey prices are higher nationwide. The American Farm Bureau reported an average of $1.36 per pound.
Milk, sweet potatoes and cranberries each cost less this year saving consumers nearly $1 on their traditional Thanksgiving meal. Other items included in the meal that saw modest price declines were a package of brown and serve rolls, frozen green peas, a pound of carrots, and half pint of whipping cream. These price decreases were mitigated by higher costs for stuffing mix, canned pumpkin, celery and frozen pie shells.
The $42.63 state average cost this year, is the best value consumers have seen since 2010, reversing a two-year higher trend.
Retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Target, Toys R Us and Macy’s have announced they are open Thanksgiving evening and pulling overnight sales marathons through Friday night.
Despite a few protests regarding the Turkey Day deals, Wal-Mart said it will kick off its Black Friday specials at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day – this is a two-hour advance versus last year. Meanwhile, Kmart is set to open at 6 a.m., and will stay open for a full 41 hours straight.
Wal-Mart has sweetened the deal for its employees who work this Thanksgiving, providing them with dinner at work and a 25% discount. Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart’s U.S. chief merchandising and marketing officer most employees are “really excited” to work the holiday.
“We appreciate each of our associates and the time that they dedicate,” he said.
Wall Street analysts said this year is expected to brutal for retailers who are each vying for more of the consumer wallet.
Wal-Mart has aggressively marketed toward consumers this year with price matching guarantees backed by an broad advertising campaign, said CNBC Courtney Reagan.
“I won’t be surprised if Wal-Mart picks up market share this year, because cash strapped consumers need and want those great deals Wal-Mart is offering online and in stores.” Reagan said.
That said, other retailers like Costco, Sam’s Club, Dillard’s, Apple, Cabela’s and Home Depot has stood firm on their decision to remain closed Thanksgiving Day.
Paul Latham, Costco’s vice president for membership and marketing, told the Huffington Post that the warehouse club wants to give its employees time with their families, as they work especially hard throughout the holiday season and they deserve the day off.
Charles Redfield, vice president of merchandise for Sam’s Club, said the Wal-Mart subsidiary will close the clubs on Thanksgiving Day, but the Sam’s Club Black Friday Savings Event will begin at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.
Dillard's also will close all 299 stores on Thanksgiving Day "to honor our associates with their family time," said spokeswoman Julie Johnson Bull.
Between Black Friday and Christmas retailers will make between 30% to 40% of their total annual sales and with six less shopping days this year retailers across the board have already started giving Black Friday deals.
An estimated 33 million people, or 23% of those surveyed by the retail federation, said Thanksgiving will find them in stores at some point. Nearly 70% or an estimated 97 million consumers plan to be out shopping on Black Friday.
"It is evident that Americans are in the holiday spirit, despite their cautious approach to spending," said Pam Goodfellow, director of Consumer Insights at Prosper Insights & Analytics, the firm that polled more than 6,000 consumers for the National Retail Federation Survey.