What is the true cost of turkey day for the average American? Find out here with these Thanksgiving spending statistics.
There's plenty to love about the Thanksgiving holiday.
As it's a chance to get together and spend quality time with your family, enjoying each other's company, sharing delicious food, watching sports and movies, and having a good rest.
While it's also a time where you can slow down and take stock of all the things in your life that you're grateful for.
And as there are no gift giving traditions surrounding Thanksgiving, there's far less financial and social pressure surrounding it than Christmas or Hanukkah.
However, that's not to say it won't cost you anything.
As there are still plenty of things you'll need to spend extra on, such as food and drink, hosting friends and family, or traveling across the country.
So we thought it'd be interesting to look at the latest Thanksgiving spending statistics to see just how much turkey day is actually costing us.
And to do this we analysed surveys from the following retail companies and organisations. as well as other reports and studies, to get an idea of the general Thanksgiving trends:
Thanksgiving Spending Highlights
Before we go into more detail on what was in the various surveys, here's a Thanksgiving spending infographic featuring the key findings.
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How Much Do We Spend Over Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving may seem like the kind of holiday where you don't need to spend much, but Americans were still expecting to spend an average of $186.05 per person during the 2019 Thanksgiving holidays (LendEdu).
And this figure has been steadily rising for the past couple of years, up from $175.65 in 2018 and $165.14 in 2017 (LendEdu).
So what are we spending this money on?
Well 82% of it ($152.56) was expected to go on food, drink and other expenses relating to the Thanksgiving dinner, while the other 18% ($33.49) was due to expected travel expenses (LendEdu).
However, you can keep these costs down if you're thrifty.
As the American Farm Bureau found that when you shop around for good deals, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 featuring all the mainstays could be achieved for a cost of $48.91.
However, adding more recent popular Thanksgiving food items like ham, russet potatoes, and green beans to the table raised the price to $62.32 (American Farm Bureau).
And finally Thanksgiving isn't a great time to be a turkey.
As Americans were expected to get through 46 million turkeys over Thanksgiving in 2019, at a total estimated cost of $968.8 million (Finder).
Hosting Thanksgiving Can Make It More Expensive
If you're planning on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner then these costs can rise significantly.
As a survey by Lending Tree found that Thanksgiving hosts spent an average of $310.17 putting on their Thanksgiving feast.
This broke down as $227.42 on food and drink, with the other $82.75 going on things like dishes, linens and decor (Lending Tree).
And because of this extra expense, 27% of hosts had to borrow money or rely on credit cards or loans to pay for Thanksgiving (Lending Tree).
And while almost half said they'd have this debt cleared by the following month, 20% said they wouldn't be able to pay off the debt by the time their next statement arrived (Lending Tree).
Which isn't great, especially going into the Christmas period.
However, 71% of Thanksgiving hosts said they loved doing it, so maybe it's a labor of love that is worth the cost (Lending Tree).
What Traveling Costs Can You Expect Over Thanksgiving?
It's not just Thanksgiving hosts that get hit in the pocket at this time of year.
As many of us also have to spend money to make long journeys to be able spend time with our friends, families, and loved ones.
In fact, AAA estimated that more than 55 million Americans had to travel over 50 miles to get to their destination during Thanksgiving in 2019.
With 49.3 million doing so by car, 1.49 million using trains and buses, and 4.45 million traveling by plane (AAA).
Many drivers choose to rent a car for this journey, with the average cost of a rental car during Thanksgiving being $75 per day (AAA).
And if you have to stay over at hotels for the weekend, the average cost for a room at a 2 diamond hotel is likely to be around $125 per night, while a stay at a 3 diamond hotel will set you back closer to $158 per night (AAA).
For those flying, doing so on the Monday before Thanksgiving is your best bet if you want a good deal, with an average ticket price coming in at $486 (AAA).
However, if you're willing to fly on Thanksgiving day itself you can save even more, with the average ticket price dropping to $454 (AAA).
But as you can see, these travel costs can quickly mount up to make Thanksgiving an expensive time for some families.
And How About Thanksgiving Shopping?
Thanksgiving is the start of a 5-day weekend of shopping sales and discounts that include Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
And taking advantage of these crazy discounts has become a tradition among many families during this time.
So let's take a look at the Thanksgiving shopping trends to get a better idea of how big it is.
The National Retail Federation found that 189.6 million people in the United States did some shopping over the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend, which was up 14% from the previous year (165.8 million).
While the ICSC survey found that shoppers were expecting to spend an average of $470 during this period, with $332 going on goods and $138 on dining, entertainment and personal services.
The biggest potential spenders were GenXers, with people in the 39-54 age range expecting to spend an average of $538 per person (ICSC).
And many people use the Thanksgiving weekend sales as an opportunity to begin their Christmas shopping, with an estimated 73% of planned spending on goods being for gifts and holiday related items (ICSC).
With the National Retail Federation finding that the average spend on holiday items during this time was $361.90 per person, with 71% of that spend going specifically on gifts ($257.33) (National Retail Federation).
The most popular holiday gift items bought were clothing (purchased by 58% of shoppers), toys (33%), electronics (31%), books and other media (28%), and gift cards (27%) (National Retail Federation).
While shopping online was most popular way to shop, with 142.2 million people using this method compared to 124 million who shopped in store, while 5.7 million people said they did both (National Retail Federation).
In fact, it was estimated that a total of $28.9 billion would be spent online over the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend, with the biggest day for sales being Cyber Monday, with expected sales of $9.4 billion (Adobe).
However, the busiest day for shopping in stores was Black Friday, which saw 84.2 million shoppers pass through the doors (National Retail Federation).
And this was also the most popular shopping day online, with 93.2 million shoppers hunting for bargains on their computers and smartphones (National Retail Federation).
Thanksgiving is a great time of the year where we come together with our friends, family, and loved ones to really appreciate everything in our life we are thankful for.
And while it isn't the most expensive of the holidays, there are still extra costs associated with things like special food and drink for the Thanksgiving dinner, hosting, and traveling to the family home.
Not to mention the Black Friday sales which make a dent in many of our wallets.
So I hope these Thanksgiving spending statistics have given you some idea of what your fellow Americans are spending and what you can expect to spend yourself.