Thanksgiving: an economic cornucopia

Patrick Budicini
Business Correspondent

Thanksgiving in America is known as a day devoted to eating, spending time with family and watching football. Each family has different traditions, but the typical meal will include Thanksgiving classics such as turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Not only does this annual holiday have an impact on one’s waist size, but it also has a major effect on the economy.

Traditionally, the 12-day period between Nov. 18 and Thanksgiving Day is the busiest time for travel of the year. The day before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel day of the year as many Americans travel all around the country to see family and friends by train, plane and automobile.

It is estimated that airlines will have a 2.5 percent increase in the number of customers flying during the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday season, according to a projection by Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. All of the major airlines believe they will be able to handle the increase in the number of passengers because more passengers have preregistration and quick-screening services that will keep lines moving during what is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving ever.

The Transportation Service Authority has already announced that upwards of 4 million people have already registered for TSA PreCheck, an almost 1.75 million increase from the 2015 season. A 5.8 percent decrease in the average ticket prices is predicted to increase the number of people who choose to fly to their Thanksgiving destinations instead of driving. This decrease in the cost of flying is a result of cheaper jet fuel prices that have been affecting the airlines since early 2015.
Although there is an increase in the number of flights for Thanksgiving, most people choose to drive their personal vehicles. It is estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation that about 91 percent of travel is done by means of personal vehicle.

The recent fall in gas prices has urged many more people to get behind the wheel and start their holiday off with a road trip, with more than 48 million people travelling over 50 miles in 2015, according to research published by the U.S. Travel Association .

This is proving to be important for gasoline companies and toll-based revenue for the government.

More disposable income due to lower gas prices is not only putting more people on the roads, but it also increases the amount of holiday spending. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the official start to the holiday shopping season. According the The National Retail Federation, the average consumer spends at least $800 during the holiday season on gifts, house decor and technology.

Many retail stores credit the time period between Black Friday and Thanksgiving with about 30 percent of their yearly sales. To keep up with this increase and demand, it is expected that around 700,000 seasonal workers will be hired, also according to NRF. This is a great way for people who are unemployed or looking for work to test out jobs and to gain experience.

Holiday shopping is critical for the success of many retail businesses. After slow sales in the first two quarters, and a steady rate of gross domestic product increase of 1.5 percent, the economy will be relying on consumer spending to give it the boost it needs heading into 2017.

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