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Giving thanks

11/28/2013

If your Thanksgiving spread includes enough turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk to feed 10, that prototypical meal will cost less this year than last.

That's the good news from the American Farm Bureau Foundation, which has been tracking costs of this same meal since 1986. This year's total: $49.04, down 44 cents from 2012.

"The cost of this year's meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "America's farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation's land for family Thanksgiving celebrations."

Of course, the costs do not take into account inflation. If one measures using 1986 dollars, the cost has consistently hovered around $20. That's about $2 a plate -- something to truly give thanks for.

With Thanksgiving upon us, the official countdown to Christmas begins. Not the Advent, mind you, but the holiday shopping season. And given the late date of Thanksgiving this year, the number of shopping days are fewer so the action will be more compressed.

U.S. consumers have indicated they will spend about 2 percent less on their holiday budgets than they did last year. A survey released by the National Retail Foundation suggest the average shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, down from $752.24.

"Though the foundation for solid holiday season growth exists, Americans are questioning the stability of our economy, our government and their own finances," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

The survey reveals the biggest belt-tightening will take place in self-gifting. A lot of times, the sale prices offered by merchants are so good individuals spend a lot of money on themselves at this time of year.

With holiday sales beginning today, continuing into tomorrow's Black Friday, Local Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and beyond, we call attention to how your holiday buget gets allocated.

We understand that not all items on your list are available in your hometown. But some of them surely are. We would encourage strongly that you make as many local purchases as possible. When factoring in the cost of gas to travel to a larger retail center, that local purchase makes more sense. When factoring in how those dollars keep recirculating in the local economy, helping friends and neighbors earn their keep and keep their doors open, it's the most sensible option.

We understand there isn't one community in all of northwest Kansas that has every possible product or service available. We know there likely will be some sort of shopping excursion. All we ask is that you don't use that trip to Wichita or Kearney, Neb., to completely fulfill all your holiday needs.

When setting your budget, set aside a percentage to spend in your town. Such an approach will make all of our holidays merrier. Keep it local.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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