Here’s a tidbit of news that economists don’t pay enough attention to: The cost of your Thanksgiving dinner has dropped for the first time in three years.
The average cost of a full turkey dinner for 10 people will be $49.04, which is 44 cents lower than a year ago, according to an annual survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group. Last year’s tally of $49.48 was the highest in the 28-year-old survey’s history.
Cheaper turkeys pulled down most of the cost — a 16-pound bird costs $21.76, about 50 cents lower than last year. Sweet potatoes, whipping cream and pumpkin-pie mix will set you back a bit more this year, but cranberries, dinner rolls and cubed stuffing won’t.
Virginians have a little less to be thankful for: At $50.01, the cost of dinner in the commonwealth is almost $3 higher than a year ago and higher than the national average, according to data from the Virginia Farm Bureau. The federation did not have data for Maryland and the District.
In 2011, the cost of the nation’s holiday meal jumped by more than $5, going from $43.47 to $49.20. The turkey was to blame that year, as well as rising costs across different food groups. The price has hovered around $49 since then.
Like the news media, the federation’s deputy chief economist couldn’t resist a Thanksgiving pun.
“This year we can be thankful that Thanksgiving Dinner, a special meal many of us look forward to all year, will not take a bigger bite out of our wallets,” said John Anderson in a statement on the federation’s Web site.
The survey recruits volunteer shoppers who scout for economical prices without using coupons or special deals. The ingredients of the meal — which haven’t changed over the years for comparison’s sake — also include pie shells, milk, peas and other vegetables.
The survey did not include the cost of alcoholic beverages.