Weather & the Cost of Your Thanksgiving Dinner

According to the Farm Bureau, this year’s Thanksgiving dinner could cost you around 5% higher than last year’s, due in part to the weather. While that may not sound like a significant increase, if you start to break things down by region and product, you can start to see the impact.

The Impact of the Weather on Thanksgiving Costs

The weather could mean US citizens pay more for their Thanksgiving’s traditional family dinner this year. I discussed the reasons for this in my most recent interview with Fox Weather – you can watch the live TV segment back here.

Unexpected Supply Problems 

During winter, and especially around holiday seasons, weather often impacts food supply from an agricultural perspective – for example, if lower yields are produced than usual. But weather also impacts things from a transportation perspective – especially if big storms are set to disrupt important supply routes to stores.

This kind of thing is becoming more common as climate change creates increasingly erratic weather and makes predictions ahead of time incredibly difficult. This year is no exception.

From the demand side, the holiday season also affects which items consumers seek out more; as with everything, weather plays a big part here in terms of driving our desire to buy and eat certain foods. High demand, as we know, also bears a direct impact on pricing.

Ongoing Covid-19 Impact

Yes, Thanksgiving is yet another aspect of our lives experiencing some pandemic-related turmoil! COVID-19 has created a higher demand for many products, which means certain holiday items have become more scarce.

With lockdown after lockdown and all the travel restrictions, I’m sure many of us have started to experience some form of ‘cabin fever’. Now, as we find ourselves on the downswing of the pandemic and relaxing restrictions, people want to go out, they want to spend more, and might even have some spare funds thanks to stimulus checks and other relief incentives.

How to Plan Ahead For Unpredictable Weather 

Preplanning is the name of the game. As the weather becomes more erratic and unpredictable, it’s a good idea to try and stock up early and buy certain items in advance in case of future supply shortages – be prepared early on for potential price spikes.

The silver lining: this too shall pass. Eventually!

But stay vigilant. Be proactive in your shopping habits and don’t postpone purchasing seasonal items until the last minute. Maybe swing by the supermarket once you finish reading this just to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a cozy and lovely family dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Paul Walsh

Previously at IBM and The Weather Company, I have decades of experience in helping large consumer businesses re-imagine how they systemically leverage weather and climate data in both supply and demand chain systems -- creating integrated enterprise processes that are more responsive and more resilient in the face of increasingly impactful weather conditions. My observations have been featured in the US on The Weather Channel and CNBC, & I've been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and The New York Times. Connect with me!