As the holiday season gets into full swing, expect some sticker shock. The cost of most holiday staples, such as turkey and booze, has increased dramatically in the last year.
With year-over-year inflation up 7.7% overall, most items bought over the holidays have increased in price. But many of them — including turkey, gift wrapping, airfare and sweets — have outpaced the average rate of inflation, costing 10% or more compared with last year, according to an analysis by financial services company Bankrate.
The study identified 40 commonly purchased holiday items across four categories: gifts, experiences, travel and entertaining. Here are the 25 items with the biggest percentage price gains, according to the latest consumer price index data:
Eggs: 43%Airline fares: 42.9%Flour and flour mixes: 24.6%Gasoline: 17.5%Turkey: 16.9%Energy services: 15.6%Bakery products: 15.5%Dairy products: 15.5%Transportation services: 15.2%Poultry: 14.9%Sugar and sweets: 14.9%Gift delivery services: 13.9%Gift wrap and stationery: 13.1%Non-alcoholic beverages: 12.7%Housekeeping supplies: 11.9%Tools, hardware and outdoor equipment: 10.1%Fruits and vegetables: 9.3%Full-service restaurant meals: 9%Household equipment and furnishings: 7.6%Fish and seafood: 7.4%Alcoholic beverages away from home: 7%New and used motor vehicles: 6.9%Toys, games, hobbies and playground equipment: 6.7%Photographic services: 6.5%Movies, theaters and concerts: 6.5%
However, a few items have actually dropped in price. Here are five that saw price decreases over the last 12 months:
Smartphones : -22.9%Sporting events: -17.7%Televisions: -16.5%Car and truck rentals: -3.5%Computers and smart home devices: -3.1%
Of course, rising inflation is nothing new for shoppers. As of October, the average American spends an extra $433 per month on expenses, compared with a year ago, according to an estimate from Moody’s Analytics.
But with more than 1 in 4 Americans planning to go into debt to pay for their holiday purchases this year, the added costs might be higher than they’re expecting.
This is especially true for credit card debt, as interest rates have climbed from around 16% to 19% in the last year — that’s $1,197 in added interest costs for $5,000 worth of debt if you only make the minimum payment each month.
Even if you plan to take on debt, set a fixed amount of how much you’ll spend before you start shopping, Bankrate recommends. With a fixed budget, you can avoid surprises when you look at your credit card statements in January.
Another tip is to start shopping now, rather than at the last minute, as a longer shopping window will give you time to compare prices before you make a purchase. Splitting the costs of a gift between a spouse, friends or siblings is another option, too.
And to offset some of the expense, consider spending or regifting retail gift cards you might already have. The average American carries a balance of $175 in unused gift cards.
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