As we all sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner today, there is a lot to be thankful for on the economic front this year. For many, it may not feel that way but trust me there are some reasons to be hopeful.
Let’s begin with the price of that dinner you are eating. The American Farm Bureau estimates that the typical turkey day meal for 10 people will cost less than $5 per person this year. At a total cost of $49.87, that is 27 cents cheaper than last year. The lower price of turkeys is the main reason for the savings. Your bird is costing you roughly 2 cents per pound less than it did last year.
There will be more of us making that trip to Grandma’s house as well. Over 48.7 million Americans are hitting the road this year, according to AAA. If their forecasts are accurate, there will be more traffic out there than at any time since 2007. At least 43.5 million of us will be traveling over 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday. That is a 1.9% increase over 2015. In addition, 3.7 million Americans will be flying to their destination (a 1.6% increase over last year).
There have also been some changes to the notorious Black Friday tradition, as well as Cyber Monday that some shoppers will like, while others will abhor. Over the past few years, retailers, in their quest for more and more sales, have invaded the once-sacrosanct Thanksgiving holiday itself. As of the latest count, 41% of consumers disapprove of stores being open on the holiday, while 59% are okay with it.
More and more retailers are now open on the holiday and many are offering hefty discounted sales on popular products to woo consumers to their doors, instead of staying home with the family. Traditionally, holiday shoppers spend Friday shopping at their favorite stores and then hit the internet the following Monday. This year, retailers are working to merge the two, while extending the shopping frenzy throughout the weekend and into Monday as well.
The on-going battle between bricks-and-mortar retailers and the likes of Amazon is intensifying with both sides encroaching on the other’s territory. More and more internet-based retailers are hawking Black Friday-type sales as early as Thursday, while retailers such as Walmart and Sears, are taking the Monday out of Cyber Monday by offering deals as early as this Saturday on their internet shopping sites.
The National Retail Federation is estimating that 137.4 million people plan to shop over the holiday weekend. About 5% of customers will drive 35% of sales, and 25% of this holiday season’s sales will be during the Black Friday weekend.
Black Friday sales are expected to exceed $3 billion, which would be an 11.5% increase over last year. Cyber Monday’s sales are also expected to top the $3 billion mark (a 9.4% increase over 2015). Overall, the total holiday season sales are forecast to grow 11% over last year, coming in at $91.6 billion.
As for individual products, Qualtics, a research firm that tracks consumer’s preferences, ranks the iPhone 7 as the most wished for tech gift this year. Pokemon Sun/Moon, Barbie, Legos, Oculus and PlayStation VR are also popular gift ideas trending on social media.
As for me, I won’t be doing any shopping over the holidays. Instead, I’ll try and have a good old fashioned Thanksgiving, which means thanking everyone (including you, my dear reader), for putting up with me all year.