Inflation slows 4th of July fun. How to Save on a Holiday BBQ
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Nothing says Independence Day like a good old-fashioned barbecue.
In keeping with tradition, most Americans — about 60% — plan to grill this weekend, and 53% will gather with friends and family, according to a recent report from market research firm Numerator.
“Consumers want to celebrate this summer for a number of reasons, and food is at the heart of that,” said Karol Aure-Flynn, food and agribusiness analyst and author of the Food Inflation report. July 4 from Wells Fargo.
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However, with the rising cost of burgers, fries, sodas and side dishes, revelers will be spending significantly more than last year.
The consumer price index, a key gauge of inflation, rose 8.6% in May from a year ago, the biggest increase since December 1981, spurred by soaring prices almost everywhere.
Food prices alone rose 1.2% in May, bringing the year-over-year gain to 10.1%.
And it’s not just staples like meat and bread that are becoming more expensive. Inflation has led many food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, to also increase the prices of beverages and packaged goods (or reduce the size of their packaging, also known as “shrinkflation”).
Overall the cost of a BBQ for a party of 10 is up 11%, according to the Aure-Flynn report.
Other expenses associated with the 4th of July weekend also soared – including the price of fireworks, which soared around 35%, and propane used to fuel gas grills, which rose 26% from a year ago, according to a separate analysis by personal financial site TheBalance.com.
Higher fuel prices can mean shorter vacation trips
Of course, anyone hitting the road will also have to deal with near-record prices at the gas station.
Fuel oil posted a monthly gain of 16.9% in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, bringing the 12-month rise to 106.7%.
According to a report by travel site The Vacationer, more than half of Americans, or 55%, say they always travel for vacation, an increase of 8% from last year.
Consumers, for their part, are cutting back on spending due to rising costs: 39% plan to buy less than they did in previous years and 27% said they would shop shorter distances due to higher gasoline prices, found Numerator.
5 Ways to Save on 4th of July Spending
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According to Aure-Flynn, here are five ways to try and cut the cost of your vacation without sacrificing the festivities:
- Look for the value. Give your barbecue budget an extra boost by planning your menu around the best value you can find, she said. Frozen patties are often cheaper than buying fresh ground beef, and while chicken prices are up 17% year-over-year, pork has been a relative bargain, she said .
- Scout sales. Generic brands are usually much cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good, but name brands may offer 4th of July discounts to build loyalty, so it’s worth paying attention to price changes, Aure said. – Flynn. “There could be promotions that way too.”
- Buy what’s in season. Fortunately, summer fruits and vegetables are well supplied at this time of year, which has led to lower prices in the fruit and vegetable aisles. “Most of the produce is seasonal, so there are some great deals there,” Aure-Flynn said.
- Share the costs. Dividing dishes gives your guests a chance to participate and leaves more room for homemade alternatives, which can be a great way to save money on prepared sides and baked goods. For example, try making lemonade instead of buying soft drinks, Aure-Flynn suggested.
- Buy in bulk. As for the rest of the items on your list, you can save more by buying in bulk. Joining a wholesale club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s will often get you the best unit price on condiments and non-perishables.
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