Soaring food costs will affect Christmas spending, according to the latest annual survey by My Merry Christmas.com of Christmas in America. With butter priced over $4 per pound in the United States and beef at record highs consumers are saying they won’t skimp on the foods this Christmas but that soaring food costs will pinch budgets traditionally reserved for gift giving, decorating and entertainment during the holidays.
“Americans are slaves to Christmas tradition and there are few bigger traditions than family and food at Christmas,” said Jeff Westover, of My Merry Christmas.com. “The past 6 years we have seen economics dominate the attitudes of Christmas in one way or another. Less discretionary income, fewer jobs and other indicators always change small dynamics of how people celebrate. But this is the first time we’ve seen in the history of the survey where the cost of one element of Christmas would affect another part of how Christmas is celebrated. Food inflation is a big deal, regardless of whether the government admits it or the media acknowledges it.”
The annual survey of Christmas in America is conducted in multiple locations around the United States in August and September each year. This year’s full survey is yet to be released but Westover said the news of food costs is just one of several “surprises” in this year’s survey results. Last year’s survey can be read at this link.
Survey respondents, perhaps thinking of holiday baking, specifically singled out the cost of butter in considering their Christmas food budgets. Media reports confirm that butter costs are at an all-time high.
While many financial publications are predicting a more robust season for online and offline retailers due to a number of factors My Merry Christmas says their survey of consumer attitudes do not reflect that optimism. “I think this year will end up better than last year,” Westover said. “But it is a far cry from Christmas a decade ago. Folks are celebrating a more conservative Christmas overall and it is not because of a change in Christmas but rather a change in their economic standing and attitudes. The frugal Christmas is in fashion and it is out of necessity, more so than at any time of our generation.”