Christmas 2014: Economics of the Holiday Meal

Christmas 2014: Economics of the Holiday Meal

Purdue ag economics and consumer science researchers take a look at holiday meals

Many consumers plan to use coupons to purchase holiday meals, will shop at more than one store to procure the ingredients for a holiday meal, and just under half will serve ham, according to the results of an online survey conducted by three Purdue University ag economics and consumer science researchers.

The survey, conducted Nov. 17-19 by agricultural economics associate professor Nicole Olynk Widmar and doctoral student Elizabeth Byrd, and consumer science assistant professor Lalatendu Acharya, asked 620 respondents their plans for holiday meals, travel and spending.

A person shops in Whole Foods Market in the Brooklyn borough on May 7, 2014, in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

According to the survey, 547 of the 620 planned to have a holiday meal in celebration of Christmas this month, with an average of nine people in attendance.

Of those responding, 50% indicated they would do the purchasing, 24% would consult with the person doing the purchasing, and 24% indicated they would have no involvement at all in meal planning or shopping.

Related: Food Safety Paramount When Creating Holiday Feast, USDA Says

About 21% said they intend to spend more and only 15% anticipating spending less on holiday meals. According to the researchers, nearly no differences were seen across income levels for holiday meal spending intentions, though households reporting annual incomes in the lowest brackets on the survey more often reported less anticipated spending on gifts this year compared to last year.

"Broadly speaking, it seems that when tradeoffs are being made, spending on meals is winning out over gifts for survey respondents," the researchers noted.

A total of 67% of respondents indicated that coupons or promotions would be used to obtain their Christmas meal. Fifty-six percent of consumers indicated they will go to more than one store to shop in preparation for the meal.

As far as the star entrée, researchers found that 42% plan to serve ham, while 22% plan to serve turkey and 9% planned to serve beef.

Christmas 2014: Economics of the Holiday Meal

Most respondents said they were most likely to prepare the meat/protein menu item from scratch, while the only item on the list for which the largest proportion of consumers bought a fully prepared product was cranberry sauce.

Pumpkin pie showed the most uniformity across answers with the most people making from scratch, but about equal proportions buying partially made or a fully prepared product.

Christmas 2014: Economics of the Holiday Meal

The survey consisted of male and female respondents in a range of ages, income and education, and from all regions of the country. The results were not projected to reflect the expected spending of the U.S. population as a whole.

Check out all the data online at the Agricultural Economic Insights blog

Source: Purdue/Agricultural Economic Insights blog

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