June 17, 2024
The price of one Memorial Day barbecue essential has soared 28% since last year. It’s not meat or vegetables.

The price of one Memorial Day barbecue essential has soared 28% since last year. It’s not meat or vegetables.

If you plan to barbecue this weekend, here’s some good news: You’ll get slightly more beef for your buck. However, unless you want to eat your burger plain, you’ll need to shell out more dough for condiments and buns.

A new study from data-analysis company Datasembly found that barbecue staples are more expensive than they were last year, with condiment prices leading the charge. The price of a 32-ounce bottle of ketchup has increased 28% since this time last year, going from $4.08 to $5.22, and a 20-ounce container of mustard has risen 13.04%, from $2.07 to $2.34. 

“‘Don’t shop hungry. It’s not just a cliche — people really do spend more when they’re shopping hungry.’”

— Lisa Thompson, a savings expert at Shopmium

What about the beef? Well, if you want ground beef for burgers, you’ll be paying a few pennies less per pound, on average, than you did last year. But if you want a steak, it will cost about 2.8% more than it did last year, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which came out in April. Pork-chop prices were also down by a few pennies per pound, while the price of bone-in chicken rose by about 8 cents per pound.

But higher prices will probably not deter Americans from getting together this weekend. Three out of four people are are planning to celebrate in some way, data-analysis company Numerator found, a share that’s virtually unchanged from last year — although this year, more Americans are planning to attend or host parties.

Americans just want to have a good time this year, Timothy Malefyt, a professor at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, told MarketWatch. 

“People want to feel good again,” Malefyt said, adding that people want to distance themselves from their memories of the past few years living through the pandemic.

Last year, people were still “pulling out” of a pandemic mindset, but this year they want something “positive and celebratory,” he said. “There’s a sense of enchantment, wanting brands to deliver more, to look back to some of the traditions and times of getting people together. People want to feel good. They want to have a good time.”

But with more than three-quarters of consumers expecting higher prices for their Memorial Day staples, saving money will be a focus. 

Up to 82% of consumers will be looking for ways to pinch pennies this weekend, according to Numerator data. They will searching out sale items, switching to store brands, shopping at dollar stores or buying smaller items. 

For people hosting a Memorial Day barbecue on a budget, one tip is to take advantage of sales and of credit-card cash-back offers in the week before the holiday. There are some other good strategies as well, Lisa Thompson, a savings expert at Shopmium, an app for cash-back offers, told MarketWatch. 

With meat usually the most expensive part of a barbecue, Thompson recommended stretching it out by making sliders, or smaller-sized burgers, instead of the usual one-third-pound patties. Making chicken or steak kebabs with vegetables is also more budget friendly than serving whole portions of grilled meat. 

And one final tip from Thompson: “Don’t shop hungry. It’s not just a cliche — people really do spend more when they’re shopping hungry. Even on nonfood items.”

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