Inflation is eating at the pocketbooks of all Americans, causing them to spend more money today than they were a year ago. Whether those increases manifested themselves in food prices, travel fees or lodging, Thanksgiving was more expensive this year than it has been in years. According to a Farm Bureau survey, the cost of a Thanksgiving meal this year was up 20 percent from last year’s average, or approximately $10.74. While inflation played a key role, supply chain disruptions and a rise in energy and fuel costs also drove up prices.
Often overlooked, diesel prices have skyrocketed to record premiums over gasoline and crude oil. Supply stockpiles have decreased in recent months, and the war in Ukraine has driven the cost up. This is extremely important as diesel is the preferred fuel for most farming equipment, as well as the trains and trucks that move our goods. Farmers across the U.S. have worked diligently to face these challenges, but more expensive fuel has meant more expensive inputs, such as fertilizer.
Traveling to see family and friends also took a larger bite out of the holiday budget. Compared to 2021, the average airfare is up about 40 percent. Families driving to see relatives were also faced with higher costs. Even though gas prices have declined from the record high this summer, they are still 8 percent higher than this time last year.
Unfortunately, Americans can expect the upcoming holiday season to follow the same trends as Thanksgiving. As the Wall Street Journal notes, diesel inventories on the east coast currently range around “25 million,” and “an average winter will deplete them by about 20 million.” That means any significantly cold winter could have much of this country in an immense squeeze, further driving prices upward.
The administration should have been working overtime to increase the supply of energy over the last half-year, as well as our domestic capacity to transport it to market. They could’ve been encouraging and supporting more infrastructure projects, such as pipelines, instead of depleting our strategic petroleum reserve, for example. Yet, without proactive action from the administration to bring down prices, Americans are left to bear the burden of overpriced holidays.
Hopefully, we will see a return to cheaper costs across the board and Americans will have relief by the time next year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons come around.