Thanksgiving food price forecast, retailers with early deals and expert savings tips

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Monday, October 23, 2023
Thanksgiving 2023 | Retailers with early deals and expert savings tips
Experts are encouraging consumers to start making shopping plans early for the holiday feast with a budget in mind.

With one month until Thanksgiving and the start of the winter holiday season, Americans are already eyeing grocery prices to gauge how much their festive gatherings are going to cost this year.

Experts are encouraging consumers to start making shopping plans early for the holiday feast with a budget in mind, especially with inflation still putting the pinch on wallets at check out.

"It is still sticker shock -- this year over last year prices are up about 2.4%, but that's on top of the 11.4% from the year before that," Phil Lempert, CEO of SupermarketGuru, told "Good Morning America."

One major retailer is ignoring inflation in order to keep a traditional turkey dinner more affordable.

John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. -- the largest retailer in the country -- joined "Good Morning America" last Wednesday and, in an ABC News Exclusive, revealed Walmart's new plan to make Thanksgiving more affordable.

"Last Thanksgiving we decided we were going to sell a Thanksgiving meal at the same price as 2021," Furner said of the strategy they implemented across other major holidays. "This year, finally, we are able to have the Thanksgiving basket that the prices are coming down versus a year ago -- we are really proud to say that the price of a Thanksgiving meal is going to come down."

This year, the Thanksgiving basket from Walmart includes ingredients to make a meal for up to 10 people, which Furner said will "sell for around $2 less than last year" at just over $70.

Furner added that the move comes on the heels of consumer feedback: "92% of our customers tell us they are concerned about food inflation."

Inflation is up 3.7% from a year ago and, according to Moody's Analytics, American households are spending $235 more per month on the same goods and services than they spent a year ago.

Staple items such as ham and potatoes will cost more this year, up 6.9% and 2.7% respectively. Egg prices are back down by 28.8% from last year, now costing $2.07 on average.

"Last year, bird flu caused panic with over 60 million birds having to be cold now, so far it's only hit about 180,000 birds," Lempert said. "It could be that turkey is gonna be less expensive this year than in previous years."

Turkey is now $1.27 per pound, down 22% since the same time last year, thanks in part to a decrease in avian flu that previously sent prices soaring, and thus, has helped produce more turkeys.

As Americans have seen shifts in supply chains, changes in consumer habits and other financial impacts that came out of the pandemic, Furner said "it's been an interesting couple years -- from last year, when inflation really started things like food and consumables picked up and we see more people eating at home."

"Whether it's food or getting ready for guest, people are buying early," Furner also said.

Starting Nov. 1, the holiday food basket at Walmart will be offered at the lower price through Dec. 26. There will be two purchasing options: one with ingredients for customers who want to cook from scratch, and one for customers that like more convenient, ready-to-bake options.

"Walmart's Thanksgiving meal includes customers' favorites and fixings including many national brands, from turkey (for under $1/lb.!) and ham to stuffing and pumpkin pie," a Walmart press release stated.

The holiday meal baskets are available for online order, pickup and delivery, as well as in-store.

Other retailers including Aldi have announced savings up to 50% on a list of 70 Thanksgiving items, including gravy, potatoes and pumpkin pies.

According to experts, one way to help maximize your dollar is to shop early for things that won't spoil and opting for generic over name brand products.

"Shop early. Make sure you have that shopping list and look at the circulars," Lempert said of the upcoming "price war."

"You're going to see Kroger, Albertson's, Shop Right -- just about everybody else wanting to get our money," he added.