The holiday inflation watch continues. This time, it’s Thanksgiving and plenty of consumers are feeling ungrateful for inflation as it slashed travel plans and slimmed down portions this year.
In the early 90s, The Proclaimers struck chart topping gold with a song all about travel. In it, they declared a willingness to walk a whopping 1000 miles in the name of true love. This year, depending on what state you live in, it might have been hard to find someone willing to drive so much as 100 miles to visit you over this past Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, if you traveled at all, you are in a rare category as more consumers have to tighten their belts right now.
This information comes courtesy of a recent survey by Florida based Gunther VW Coconut Creek, a car dealership that polled over 7,000 people across the U.S. to learn more about their Thanksgiving plans. Thanksgiving weekend typically sees plenty of travelers taking to the skyways and highways; the survey revealed that not everyone planned to travel (or feast) like they normally would have in past years.
Traditionally, from Wednesday through the following Monday, Thanksgiving is an anticipated whopper of a consumer extravaganza. This is partly because of the traveling and feasting but it is also because of the shopping traffic that follows through the course of the long weekend.
But these beloved traditions have mellowed some and taken a bit of a hit this year because of inflation and spiking prices. The tentacles of inflation continue to grip multiple aspects of our lives and Thanksgiving wasn’t immune. Although consumers spent more in October than they did in September according to the latest results by the U.S. Census Bureau, there still wasn’t much to cheer about overall. The categories that saw the most increase (food and fuel) rose in part due to interest rates and less because consumers went out confidently and spent. Food, fuel, and disposable income are also often directly related to the Thanksgiving holiday, and consumers are responding in kind by scaling back.
According to the survey, the average American family was willing to travel about 82 miles to gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving this year. Beyond their plans to go less distance, the survey also found that many reported they were happy to skip a long journey and stick closer to home this year. By state, Vermonters came in lowest, with denizens of the Green Mountain State reporting a willingness to travel a modest 21 miles to gather up. At the opposite end of the travel spectrum, respondents in Rhode Island and North Dakota said they would travel 150 miles for Thanksgiving.
Of those survey participants who were set to travel far for a visit, 19% said they’d also be willing to pass a proverbial hat to see if friends or family might contribute to their travel-related expenses such as gas. In that same vein, two-fifths of respondents were more likely to keep it more local by spending their Thanksgiving holiday with nearby friends and neighbors this year instead of trekking those longer distances to gather with their families.
Travel isn’t the only category taking a hit this weekend. At plenty of homes, food inflation remains a going concern for consumers. As a result, 21% said they would cancel the traditional spread of turkey and all the trimmings and instead opt to serve their guests something that was more affordable. More than one-third of survey respondents who planned to host said they’d invite less guests this year and 68% reported an anticipated decline in leftovers from their meals because of the high cost of food.
According to the survey, anyone who didn’t see family this past weekend should take heart. Half of those surveyed said they were willing to stay home and use saved monies for Black Friday deals. It’s been said that modern problems require modern solutions and one holdover from the days of COVID-19 travel restriction is coming in handy for some families since one in five respondents planned to have virtual gatherings in place of in-person this year.
As Christmas and the other coming winter holidays unfold, we’ll be watching to see how consumers plan to cope.
For an interactive map that shows willingness to travel by state, check out this link from Gunther VW Coconut Creek.