Fourth of July Parties as Economic Stimulus

Whatever it does for Americans’ civic spirit, the July 4 holiday should give a momentary boost to the economy as people stock up for barbecues and other parties to mark the occasion.

According to a report by the Nielsen Co. (Adweek’s parent company), “U.S. consumers are expected to purchase more than 110 million pounds or $215 million worth of hot dogs during the four-week period surrounding the holiday.” The same period is forecast to see sales of $117 million worth of fresh ground beef and $71 million of frozen ground beef, as well as $51 million worth of bratwurst/knockwurst. Carbonated beverages will ring up $1.5 billion in sales during that period.

While food prices in general have risen, there’s wide variation from one item to another among those one finds at a typical July 4 party. Fresh bakery buns are 20 percent pricier than last summer, and potato chips cost 19 percent more. Increases are more modest for mustard (up 10 percent), hot dogs (9 percent), frozen ground beef (8 percent) and ketchup (7 percent). A few items have seen price decreases since last summer. Fresh tomatoes are 1 percent cheaper (and no extra charge for the salmonella!); fresh onions cost 16 percent less.