Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Meal for Ten Only $34.03 at Walmart

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Nov. 18, 2011 "The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) recently reported that Americans will pay more to feed 10 people for Thanksgiving dinner this year than since the mid-1980s. The average turkey feast for 10 this year will cost $49.20 – that’s $5.73 more than it cost just last year (see related CD post here). Shoppers at Walmart will pay 1/3 (31%) less for the same Thanksgiving groceries ($34.03) and will have an extra $15 in their wallet with this savings.

“If you think about it, based on the Farm Bureau’s statistics, if you were to shop at Walmart for your Thanksgiving meal for 10, you could essentially feed three of your guests for free because you saved so much on the overall meal,” Sinclair added."

Update 1:  What single organization in human history has made the greatest contribution to enriching and improving the lives of the poor, the middle class, the average citizen, the bottom of "the 99%," etc.?  I nominate Walmart. 

Update 2: See Don Boudreaux's related post here.

30 Comments:

At 11/18/2011 10:01 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Mark, you don't understand. I'm sure VangelV will come by and explain to you that this is all the result of inflation and how the government statisticians are lying to us. You watch.

 
At 11/18/2011 10:05 AM, OpenID moneyjihad said...

Ah, but it's so much easier to complain about "rising prices" than to be thankful for low prices overall.

 
At 11/18/2011 10:16 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

i am calling serious BS on this list.

i hosted thanksgiving for 8 last year and spent easily $600.

even if you take out wine, feeding 10 is gonna be a couple hundred bucks.

also note:

the food at home segment of CPI is up 6.2% year on year, so sorry jihad, but even after all their adjustments to lower it, there is not any evidence for your "low food prices overall" argument.

 
At 11/18/2011 10:23 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Note: The prices for a 10-person dinner are based on a 12-item Farm Bureau list of items here:

http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.news&year=2011&file=nr1110.html

 
At 11/18/2011 10:59 AM, OpenID ntk said...

i hosted thanksgiving for 8 last year and spent easily $600.
How the hell did you manage to spend $75 per person? What the hell did you serve, caviar stuffed with gold dust?

 
At 11/18/2011 11:07 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

mark, right, but look at the portion sizes.

16 pounds for 10? we cooked 22 for 8.

the sizes on the other dishes are similarly Lilliputian.

leaving aside quality issues (i would never eat a steroid and antibiotic loaded bird from walmart, but many seem happy to) this pricing is just so far off the experience of anyone i know that it just seems preposterous.

look at the sizes:

1/2 pint of whipping cream for 10 people? come on.

1.2 oz of cranberries each?

1.4oz of stuffing?

1.6 oz of peas?

really?

this seems like inadequate food for the children's table.

a lot of these portions need to go up by 3-4X to be even remotely realistic.

also: if thanksgiving food prices are flat, they are an anomaly.

food at home is up 6.2% year on year in the last CPI number. this is the biggest jump of any component other than energy.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

such a result is possible, as a turkey is a loss leader to get you into the store, but even if correct, to attempt to extrapolate it into the the rest of the food market flies in the face of the aggregate data.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:14 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

ntk-

perhaps you don't drink wine/champagne with thanksgiving, but we do.

8 people can easily put down half a case of wine which is $300 easy right there. add in a couple bottles of champagne and you're at $400.

22 pound diestel heirloom turkey: $90. (not all of us like walmart turkey)

it's pretty easy to hit $600.

i'm not saying you have to, but $49 is ridiculous. look at the portions they discuss.

1.4 oz of stuffing a person? that's 2 bites.

i could believe $100-150, but no way $49.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:24 AM, Blogger SailorRoger said...

"food at home is up 6.2% year on year ..."

If you do the math, Wal-Mart claims that there prices are up 5.7%, not so far from the 6.2% and that the average, which is not their number, is up 13.1%. They never said there was no inflation of food prices.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:30 AM, OpenID voxrationalis said...

Holy crap, I pretty much agree with morganovich.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:38 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

sailor-

fair enough in the inflation.

actually the inflation in the AFBF number is more like 13%, more than twice reported CPI (a number about which i have serious doubts).

my real beef here is that the overall prices they lay out are absurd because the portion sizes they use would not feed a 10 year old.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:38 AM, Blogger Jim said...

@morganovich

The point of the post is that food prices are rising (probably rising faster than Walmart's promotional piece argues).

I agree with your basic point that the portions are way too small, but why sully the thread with it? It doesn't change the main point does it?

 
At 11/18/2011 11:39 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Sure, you can argue with the Farm Bureau's list of 12 items, but if that's the same fixed-item list that it has tracked since 1986, it allows for a valid comparison over time in the total cost of those 12 items for a classic turkey dinner. And it also allows Walmart to compare the cost of those 12 items at Walmart vs. the average for other grocery stores.

And it's probably the case that for the ten people coming to dinner, the Farm Bureau is assuming it would be a mix of adults and children. So even if it's not enough for 10 adults, it might be enough for 6 adults and 4 children, for example.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

jim-

one of the major points in the linked piece is "thanksgiving dinner still affordable at...'

that is what i'm taking issue with.

sure, portion size makes no difference to inflation rate so long as it's constant, i never said otherwise. my beef is with the absolute number and jihad's claim about "low prices overall".

even with 4 kids, these are absurdly small portions.

i have been to a thanksgiving for 4 that cooked more than that list.

 
At 11/18/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger AIG said...

Morganovich, it is irrelevant what the portion sizes are and or how many people it can feed.

What matters is that the unit of comparison has remained the same over time.

PS: It is likely that in 1986 these portions could have fed 10 people. Today they can't. Inflation of our girth, is more likely.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:00 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"one of the major points in the linked piece is "thanksgiving dinner still affordable at...'"

Affordable is a subjective term which is entirely related to how much you want to eat for dinner. A 113 lb woman is going to want to eat a lot less than a 325 lb man.

Don't get caught up in wording.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:07 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) recently reported that Americans will pay more to feed 10 people for Thanksgiving dinner this year than since the mid-1980s. The average turkey feast for 10 this year will cost $49.20 – that’s $5.73 more than it cost just last year (see related CD post here). Shoppers at Walmart will pay 1/3 (31%) less for the same Thanksgiving groceries ($34.03) and will have an extra $15 in their wallet with this savings.

I would not complain at paying $49.20 to feed ten people. Neither would most Americans. I would guess that most people would be happy with $250. This is exactly why I take these pronouncements with a grain of salt.

What I do note however is that using a constant way of measuring prices we have seen an 11% increase. Because Mark does not like that very much he switches measurements and compares the costs with what would be paid by Walmart shoppers. Of course, we are not told if these are special sale prices designed to get people in the door or how they compare to last year's Walmart prices when adjusted for coupons, special promotions, sales, etc. All that matters in the real world, which is something that people like Mark tend to ignore.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:16 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I agree with your basic point that the portions are way too small, but why sully the thread with it? It doesn't change the main point does it?

What exactly is the main point? Mark has been posting all kinds of materiel trying to suggest that there was no inflation in the system. This seems to be a piece that tries to lead readers to the same conclusion. From what I can tell morganovich certainly has a point about how inadequate the statistics really are.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:17 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

OK, you want to have Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth, MA. For $66 bucks adults and $44 kids, you can savor a Thanksgiving Buffet at the Plimoth Plantation. Still room at the 6:00 seating.

A wine and beer package (includes Mayflower Ale) costs $12 per person.

So, for $624, eight adults can eat and drink all they want at the Pilgrim's place vs. $600 at morganovich's fine diner. :>)

Yes, there is a Wal-Mart (Walmart) on Colony Place road in Plymouth, for the $34.03 dinner.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:21 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"Mark has been posting all kinds of materiel trying to suggest that there was no inflation in the system"

You're absolutely right VangelV. We remember the time you tried to compare prices for...SPAM :) in order to prove inflation.

Oh wait, you didn't prove anything other than you don't understand a concept like, units.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:39 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

"Morganovich, it is irrelevant what the portion sizes are and or how many people it can feed."

actually, that's not true at all.

the ratios matter a great deal.
if you understate the amount of stuffing eaten relative to cranberries and stuffing has been going up in price more than cranberries, you understate the overall rate of inflation.

regarding the number of people it can feed, claiming that to be irrelevant as a metric of affordability seems preposterous.

that is the very definition of affordability.

if it costs X and feeds 10 it is clearly more affordable than if it costs X and feeds 4.

so you are wrong on both counts, demonstrating that 1. you do not understand why basket weighting matters. and 2. that you do not understand the difference between % change and affordability.

also worth noting, the basket the AFBF uses is up 13% from a year ago.

as you seem to take the "no inflation view" how do you account for that?

food is up a great deal in price in the last few years and shows signs of acceleration. not even the BLS argues that.

so what is it you are trying to say here?

 
At 11/18/2011 12:59 PM, Blogger Marko said...

I agree with Morganovich, as usual, at least as far as to the actual cost of a thanksgiving dinner. I don't take my family to a routine dinner out for 49.00, let alone a big feast. I could (in-n-out burger is cheap) but I generally don't. I earn far more than the average income though, and tend to blow money on food. But really, go to the grocery store and try to buy enough stuff for 10 people to eat a turkey dinner for 50 bucks. What do you get, one small turkey a big can of yams and two bags of stuffing. Really? I can't walk out of a supermarket with enough for a couple meals for 4 (2 including little kids) for less than a hundred bucks. Of course I generally don't buy just sacks of potatoes and boxes of lentils.

"Average cost" here is a bit misleading too, since most people will read that and think they did a study of what people actually paid for the turkey day feast, not based on a basket of similar items.

The basic point is good though Mark - food is cheaper now, and Walmart is making it even cheaper. It is hard to argue people are starving with food this cheap.

 
At 11/18/2011 2:35 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"so what is it you are trying to say here?"

Oh boy. What I'm saying is, don't get caught up on useless details on how much food 10 people or 4 people can eat. I can guarantee you that I will eat less on thanksgiving than you will. I can also guarantee you that 10 people in 1984 or in 1976 or in 1936 ate LESS than 10 people in 2011.

All that matters is that the unit of comparison has remained constant through the time period. That's it.

 
At 11/18/2011 3:13 PM, Blogger NormanB said...

The Dems are against WalMart and US energy production and they keep underprivledged kids from getting educated. How do they get away with it?

 
At 11/18/2011 4:09 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

also worth noting, the basket the AFBF uses is up 13% from a year ago.

as you seem to take the "no inflation view" how do you account for that?

food is up a great deal in price in the last few years and shows signs of acceleration. not even the BLS argues that.

so what is it you are trying to say here?


Perhaps that those of us who argued that the BLS was hiding food inflation were right all along?

 
At 11/18/2011 4:10 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The basic point is good though Mark - food is cheaper now, and Walmart is making it even cheaper. It is hard to argue people are starving with food this cheap.

Nobody is arguing the fact that food is cheap. What is being argued is how fast prices are rising.

 
At 11/18/2011 7:58 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Well, as a satisfied patron of the Golden Corral, for $15 I can eat as much as I like of a great variety of foods, including turkey, and go home and drink all the wine I like:)

And no clean-up!

 
At 11/18/2011 8:48 PM, Blogger J H Schumacher said...

Go work at Wal-Mart if you think it's so great and support your family on their low wages.

 
At 11/18/2011 9:53 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Go work at Wal-Mart if you think it's so great and support your family on their low wages.

There is nothing wrong with Wal-Mart. It has done more good for poor people than any government and has provided more jobs than any American corporation. The issue is inflation, not working at Wal-Mart.

 
At 11/19/2011 1:45 AM, Blogger liquiditytrap said...

Shumacher, you're not smart. Why should anyone working a low skill job be paid anything other than a correspondingly low amount?

 
At 11/20/2011 12:19 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Until Sam's heirs atone for making Wal-Mart a financial supporter of un-American despotism, as practiced in countries like China, no award will be given. Given the link between Wal-Mart and countries as despotic as China, no award will ever be seen.

You're more likely to see Joe Paterno's record overshadow the scandal or Pete Rose's name enter the Hall of Fame for baseball. At least they're more willing to seek redemption for their misdeeds in their respective areas.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home