Independence Day celebrations could cost up to 40% more

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 316 views 

(photo courtesy of content partner KFSM5 News)

With the Fourth of July holiday falling on Monday this year, more consumers say they plan to celebrate during the weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Many will stay home amid rising fuel and travel costs, but even those stay-cations could cost up to 40% more than a year ago.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) estimates consumers will pay 36% more if they grill hamburgers, 33% more for chicken breast meat, and pork chops are 31% more expensive than a year ago. AFBF estimates the average July 4th cookout for 10 people increased 17% to $70. It’s not just meat costs that have escalated; AFBF also reported price increases for lemonade, hamburger buns, chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream, and potato salad. That said, strawberries are 13% cheaper, as is cheese.

“The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe. U.S. food assistance programs and food banks help those who struggle to make ends meet here at home, but the story is much different around the globe as food insecurity skyrockets. The big impact of a single event in Ukraine shows how dependent the world is on stable, productive agriculture,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported a 10.1% increase in food prices for May, while inflation generally was up 8.6% during the period. Economists at Wells Fargo Securities also estimate a minimum of 11% higher costs to feed a group of 10 people this July 4. Wells Fargo analyzed cost data for typical summer cookout items like cheeseburgers, chicken wings, shrimp on the barbie, sweet corn, potato salad, salty snacks, salsa, avocado, ice cream and strawberries in its reporting.

Wells Fargo found switching to pork and shrimp could help offset increased costs. Although average prices for shrimp and pork were up, they trailed behind the 12%-15% increases seen for other proteins, making it a relative bargain. But economists also said retailers could utilize higher protein prices to their advantage.

“There has been so much attention on protein price increases that an attractive price for chicken breasts or rotisserie chickens, even at a loss for the retailer, certainly could attract attention,” the report stated.

Wells Fargo said avocados remained expensive, but consumers weren’t turning away from the superfood. Avocado sales were up 24% year-to-date in sales volume by dollar, but unit volumes continued to increase when compared to 2021. While fresh produce prices were up about 7% overall, tomatoes were only up 1%, providing a value option for many consumers.

Families across the the U.S. are expected to spend a whopping $2.3 billion on fireworks this year for their Independence Day celebrations. The price of fireworks has gone up 35% nationwide, thanks in part to supply chain issues. Local fireworks stands across Northwest Arkansas say two or three years ago a family could put on a great show for around $100. Today that cost is close to $200.

The American Pyrotechnics Association said it could be a challenging year for small operators who sell fireworks given the escalating costs which are mostly attributed to supply chain challenges and higher freight rates. Five years ago, it cost $10,000 to ship a container of fireworks from China to the U.S. This year, that cost has ballooned to $45,000, according to the APA.

Julie Heckman, executive director at APA, said the fireworks industry proved to be recession resistant in the 2000s, but this time the inflation is out of control.

“The rising cost of supplies and raw materials has risen conservatively at approximately 20%, increasing the cost of producing safe, high-quality pyrotechnic products. Insurance has significantly increased during the past year including product liability, auto, truck, and hazardous materials insurance. Transportation costs have dramatically increased as well. Gas prices are the highest since 2015, almost doubling from just over a year ago for diesel fuel,” Heckman said.

She said the fuel costs directly impact the industry’s transport of containers from ports to warehouses that supply small operators. Heckman said all of those costs will likely be being passed along to the end consumer.

“The entire fireworks industry is faced with these challenges and overall costs are up more than 35% across the fireworks industry. As the industry prepares for unprecedented demand and a post-pandemic full recovery in Independence Day celebrations, it remains to be seen if small operators can weather the escalating costs for such seasonal business.”

For lake lovers, boating will be twice as expensive this Fourth of July as fuel prices have risen 59% from a year ago across Arkansas. The average price per gallon in Benton County is $4.445 per gallon with Washington County’s average at $4.483 per gallon this week heading into the July 4th holiday weekend. Fuel was priced similarly in Crawford and Sebastian counties at $4.525, and $4.411, respectively. Pulaski County was cheaper at $4.374 and it was $4.167 in the Jonesboro area.

A day (5 hours) of boating in a small, motorized watercraft will cost around $155 in fuel this year. That’s compared to $97 a year ago. The average ski boat will use about $350 in fuel this year during a five hour run, according to the fuel guide released by TriumphBoats.com.