Thanksgiving Day 2016: Traveling, Dining, Shopping

Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American holiday, and most Americans celebrate the holiday with a family get-together, a Thanksgiving feast, and then maybe football or shopping. What’s not to be thankful for?

In keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, over the past few weeks we’ve taken a look at some of the costs of the holiday. Like the cost of traveling to Grandma’s house for dinner and the cost of putting that Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Watching football on TV is nominally free, of course, but for those ready to hit the stores for a bit of early Black Friday shopping, the cost is anything but free.

Here’s a look at some stories we’ve followed in the run-up to this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.

The cost of holiday travel is near a multi-year low. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.064 on average in the U.S. last year on Thanksgiving eve and the benchmark price this year is $2.131. But the most common price is exactly the same for both years: $1.999 a gallon.

Nearly 49 million Americans plan to travel more than 50 miles from home for the holiday with the vast majority (about 43.5 million) hitting the highways. Another 3.7 million will travel by air to their holiday destinations while nearly 2.5 million will take a bus or train.

The object of much of this attention is, of course, a turkey dinner. Around 45 million turkeys will take the post of honor on Americans’ dining room tables this year.

The groaning board will also be piled with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and traditional holiday favorites. And the average cost to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner has dropped slightly from last year to $49.87 to feed 10 people.

And now it’s time to go shopping. About a quarter of Americans plan to begin their holiday shopping season after dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

Holiday season sales linked to Black Friday have crept closer and closer to November 1 as merchants seek to maximize sales for the entire shopping season rather than pin all their hopes on one day. This year’s elections had a negative effect on sales in the first two weeks of November, and retailers are going to push hard for more sales and discounts for the full Black Friday weekend are expected to average 38%

Many brick-and-mortar retailers will be open on Thanksgiving Day and virtually all major retailers will have Black Friday pricing available for many items online beginning as early as one minute after midnight on Thanksgiving morning.

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!