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Thanksgiving dinner costs fall 4% to cheapest price since 2010

Zack Guzman
·Senior Writer
·3 min read

With the coronavirus pandemic worsening and some medical experts calling on Americans to outright cancel Thanksgiving celebrations, there is at least one silver lining for the holiday this year: it’s cheaper.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 35th annual survey, the average cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving feast in 2020 is expected to be 4% cheaper than last year and the lowest since 2010 at just $46.90.

The turkey, the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving dinners, also costs about 7% less than last year at an average of $19.39 for a 16-pound bird.

“Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday,” explained AFBF Chief Economist John Newton in the group’s final survey. Luckily, turkeys remain in ample supply despite fears of coronavirus-related disruptions this year.

U.S. President Donald Trump declares a Thanksgiving turkey named "Peas" pardoned as National Turkey Federation Chairman Jeff Sveen looks on during the 71st presentation and pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkeys in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
President Donald Trump declares a Thanksgiving turkey named "Peas" pardoned as National Turkey Federation Chairman Jeff Sveen looks on during the 71st presentation and pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkeys in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Farm Bureau’s informal shopping list survey included costs associated with the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with ample leftovers. The items registering modest price increases this year included dinner rolls, stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.

Beyond the cost of food, though, Americans are widely expected to be spending less on travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally warned against the coronavirus risks associated with travel in new guidance Thursday. Stopping short of travel restrictions, the agency recommended Americans stay home and avoid large gatherings as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.

Even before the official CDC recommendation, however, Americans were largely already avoiding the idea of traveling. Travel experts at AAA last week updated their Thanksgiving travel forecast to reflect a 10% decline over last year. The anticipated drop would mark the largest year-over-year decrease in Thanksgiving travel since 2008’s Great Recession.

The drop in Thanksgiving travel is also leading to cheaper airfares. For those willing to fly this Thanksgiving, flights will be the cheapest in three years, according to AAA data. Airfare scanning platform Skyscanner has seen the same thing play out this year, pointing to roundtrip Thanksgiving flights from New York to Dallas that are down 41% in price versus the 2019 and 2018 average.

Zack Guzman is the co-host of the 11AM - 1PM hours on Yahoo Finance Live as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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