By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Despite having to pay more for her Independence Day cookout this year, Randi Stanton said skimping on the annual celebration was not an option.
“I’ve got family coming over on the Fourth and everybody brings something,” she said. “We always do the ribs. … they’d kill me if we didn’t.”
The Fourth of July is the largest grilling and barbecuing day of the year, and area grocery stores and supermarkets have been stocking up to prepare for it.
And higher prices on pork, chicken and beef don’t appear to be a deterrent for consumers.
The most recent USDA price outlook showed food prices running 1.4 percent higher than last year, with projections that they’ll continue rising.
Clay Knight, the manager of Todd’s Big Star, said today and Thursday will be the heaviest shopping days.
“It will be packed,” he said. “People have just started, but they’re buying lots of pork ribs. And they’re buying charcoal, barbecue sauce, chips, baked beans, ice. … you name it.”
Among the shoppers Tuesday was Dan Payne, who bought a Boston butt and ribs for his Independence Day get-together.
“I’ll probably start tonight about 11 or 12 and let them smoke all night,” he said.
Also checking out the meat department at Todd’s was Joe Petty, who was looking for baby back ribs.
“And looking for some steaks,” he said.
But what about that All-American treat, the hot dog? Apparently, it losing some of its long-held popularity.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, hot dog sales in stores were down 3 percent last year.
Still, sales totaled $1.7 billion in stores alone, and Americans are expected to consume about 150 million hot dogs Thursday.
Knight said he hasn’t seen any drop-off in hot dog-buying.
“Oh, they’re selling,” he said. “Then you’ve got the buns that go with it.”
And what would Independence Day be without fireworks?
Visa’s survey revealed about 40 percent of Americans will buy fireworks, spending an average of $28 per person. In the South, people will spend about $35 per person.
“The Fourth of July is a great day for celebration,” said Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. financial education. “But don’t let your budget explode like a firework, It’s important to plan your spending and then stick to that plan.”
Stanton says her family has a budget, but admitted they’ll be spending more on fireworks than food.
“You only get to light up twice a year, so why not put on a show?” she said.
ACCORDING TO a Visa survey, 88 percent of Americans will spend money during the Independence Day holiday, compared to 79 percent last year.
• Spending will increase from about $190 per person last year to about $300 this year.
• Northeasterners will spend an average of $454, followed by Southerners at $339. Midwesterners will spend about $195.
• More than 40 percent will be buying fireworks, averaging $28 per person.