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The Margin: Sizzling inflation is raising the cost of July 4th BBQs by almost 21%

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If you’re planning a Fourth of July barbecue, be prepared to dig deeper into your wallet.

A new study from the Political Calculations blog found that the cost of the traditional July 4th cookout, including everything from hamburgers and buns to ice cream and homemade potato salad, has increased by 20.9% to $71.98 in the past year. And that’s not including alcohol. The blog based its calculations using 2021 data from the American Farm Bureau Federation, and comparing the figures with recent prices at Walmart
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Some items on the menu have particularly surged. A half-gallon of vanilla ice cream is up by 58.6% to $4.69, according to the report. And an eight-pack of hamburger buns has increased by 55.4% to $1.66. The price of chicken breasts and pork chops to throw on the grill also rose by 30% or more.

Still, a couple of barbecue must-haves are actually dropping in price. The cost of two pints of strawberries has dipped by 15.5% to $4.48, this report found. And a 13-ounce bag of chocolate-chip cookies has gone down by 10.9% to $4.02.

MarketWatch Illustration

Not that the overall cookout price hike should come as a surprise at a time when the rate of inflation is 8.6%. Recent federal data shows that Americans are paying dramatically more for a number of consumer goods. For example, the price of a dozen eggs has gone up in the past year from $1.62 to $2.86.  And U.S. retail sales fall for first time in five months in May. “This is a sign that higher prices are starting to thwart consumer demand,” said economist Katherine Judge of CIBC Economics.

The Political Calculations blog noted that consumers can still find ways to save money, even with the price hikes. “A good strategy would be to substitute store-brand versions of the products, assuming you’re okay with any differences in quality. You could also shop at other grocery stores that may offer lower prices,” the blog said.

The Farm Bureau will release its own survey on 2022 cookout costs on June 28, a spokesperson told MarketWatch.

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