More Americans plan activities for Independence Day

Staff Reports • Updated Jun 28, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Americans are expected to spend $7.1 billion on food for cookouts and picnics as they celebrate the Fourth of July this year, up from $6.8 billion in 2016, according to an annual survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and conducted by Prosper Insight and Analytics.

According to the survey, 219 million Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, or 88 percent of those surveyed. A total of 162 million – 66 percent of those surveyed – plan to take part in a cookout or picnic, spending an average $73.42 per person, up from last year’s $71.34. The numbers cover only food items, not other holiday-related spending.

“With warmer than average weather so far this summer, Americans should be in the mood to head outside to celebrate, whether it’s watching fireworks or firing up the barbecue,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers will be well stocked with everything from flags to burgers to help Americans prepare for their holiday activities.”

The survey found 65 percent of consumers already own a U.S. flag, 53 percent patriotic-themed apparel such as T-shirts, bathing suits or shoes, and 40 percent own patriotic decorations. Nonetheless, 28 percent plan on buying more patriotic items.

When it comes to other activities to celebrate Independence Day, 44 percent of Americans will attend a firework show or community celebration and 14 percent will watch a parade.

The holiday weekend is also a popular time for travel, and 32.9 million Americans said they will head out of town – 13 percent of those celebrating – up from 31.1 million from last year. Only 18 percent said the price of gasoline will affect their plans, down from 21 percent last year and a record low since the survey began in 2004. The number who said high gas prices would discourage them from spending for Independence Day peaked at 59 percent in 2008.

“With more Americans planning to travel this Independence Day, gas prices are far less of a factor than they were in previous years,” said Prosper Insights consumer insights director Pam Goodfellow. “Many consumers will take advantage of low gas prices by taking long road trips with their family or heading to the beach for a long weekend.”

The survey of 7,258 consumers was conducted June 5-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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