Every year, people travel from far and wide to spend time with their families and loved ones around the Thanksgiving table. Traditions might differ per household, but the last Thursday of the month is a special time for celebration and reflection, especially since the last two years of the pandemic have made it hard for everyone to be together in-person for the festivities.
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Although the spirit of the holiday is about gratitude and family, the reality is that Thanksgiving isn't cheap -- especially for the millions of Americans who plan to host or travel. Here's a look at the big business of Thanksgiving, and the amount of money that Americans are willing to spend to make memories with their loved ones and transform turkeys into mountains of leftovers.
A Record Percentage of Households Will Host
Grab some extra seats, because there's bound to be more mouths to feed at the dinner table this Turkey Day. Finder.com reports that in 2021, about "292.9 million Americans gather[ed] to enjoy this yearly feast and that figure is expected to hit 293.3 million turkey lovers in 2022."
In the pre-vaccine world of Turkey Day 2020, a whole lot of hosts took the year off. Now, they're making up for it in the years since...and so are their guests.
"Many ways to save money begin by having a plan, and Thanksgiving dinner is no different. Create your menu as soon as possible so you can shop early and take advantage of grocery discounts," suggests Finder's personal finance expert, Laura Adams.
Turkey Spending Is Way Up
It's not just the guestlist that's getting bigger; it's the price of the meal itself, especially when it comes to the centerpiece bird.
"In 2022, Americans will spend an estimated $1.1 billion on festive fouls, an increase of roughly $151 million from the $985 million paid for Thanksgiving turkeys in 2021," calculates Finder.com.
"The average price of a turkey has increased by 15.3% in 2022, jumping from $21.41 in 2021 to $24.69 in 2022 for a 16-pound bird."
The USDA predicts that 46 million turkeys will be gobbled up this year on Thanksgiving, feeding close to 293 million Americans, a bump of about 1 million from the 292 million in 2021.
Inflation Is the Unwelcome Guest
Prices are going up for everything, not just food. The cost to just go to Thanksgiving in 2022 is causing lots of families to rethink their plans, though not always in their budgets' best interests.
"High levels of inflation are affecting millions of Americans' Thanksgiving plans, with 66.5% of respondents, representing roughly 171 million residents, saying that rising costs have forced them to re-evaluate," reports The Vacationer.
A breakdown of results in a survey from the site show that of the 43%+ intended to travel for Thanksgiving. However, 66%+ indicated that their plans would be impacted in one way or another due to inflation.
The survey goes on to report that "12.6% of adults expect to spend $501 to $1,000; 8.4% expected to spend $1,001 to $1,500; 5.1% expected to spend $1,501 to $2,000, and 2.6% expected to spend $2,000 or more."
Less Is More
From the first bite of stuffing and the last spoonful of pie, Thanksgiving has always been the holiday where more is more. Or is it? Personal Capital found that in order to keep costs low, a quarter of Americans plan to skip out on Thanksgiving all together.
For those who do choose to observe the holiday in 2022, 88% of those surveyed by Personal Capital are eliminating at least one dish in order to cut costs and more than a third intend to have smaller Thanksgiving meals.
Some are even limiting the celebration to a Friendsgiving, where the only item on the menu will be a pizza that's delivered.
The Skies Will Be Packed
If you're planning to travel by plane for Thanksgiving, you can expect plenty of company in the air.
"The 43% of American adults expected to travel this Thanksgiving equates to more than 112 million travelers, based on the most recent U.S. Census data," reports Silive.com.
It's not just the amount of travelers going up, but the cost of traveling as well.
Airfares have increased on average to be about 43% higher from 2021 for a domestic flight during the Thanksgiving holiday, which means most travelers can expect to pay around $350 per ticket, depending on where they start and where they are going.
Flying out of the country? The prices keep going up. According to Hopper Media, "International airfare is currently averaging $795 per ticket this Thanksgiving, up 25% compared to 2019 and up 41% compared to last year."
So, if you are headed to the airport, give yourself plenty of time to check your bags, get through security, and with the weather changing, plenty of delays.
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Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.
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