They cannot fly — one WKRP a news correspondent once saw a witness to this spectacle in a classic episode of an iconic television show – but the turkeys flew off the shelves of local grocery stores.
This year, however, Thanksgiving shopping trends saw some differences from previous campaigns.
“We’ve had turkeys of all sizes, but this year we’ve noticed that the smaller ones are selling more,” explains Willie Abougouche of IGA Lac La Biche. “Normally we see the seven to nine kilogram birds being bought, but this year it’s the smaller five to seven.”
A tough economy and higher prices for most food supplies are likely causes for the shift to smaller sizes. Abougouche said food shoppers at his store are in the same boat as local customers who walk through his door.
“We’re seeing prices go up like everyone else. It’s costing us more to stock the shelves,” he said.
A recent news article estimated that turkey prices in grocery stores were up 8% from a year ago. Abougouche says that number seems a bit low.
“I don’t know where they came up with eight percent, but I see the price of turkeys going up there,” he said.
Despite the price increases, the local IGA saw “a good run” of turkey sales ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.
Beef rather than bird options
Across town, at Britton’s Your Independent Grocer, Bill Britton also says the economy has created changes in Thanksgiving shopping habits compared to other years.
He said supply and demand issues along with economic hardship and large-scale staff shortages have affected not only prices but also the availability of seasonal birds.
“We’ve heard stories of producers losing entire flocks, leading to higher prices and lower supply,” he said, adding that turkey sales at his store were flat, but like IGA, Britton is affected by global markets, as are its local customers. “We are currently out of fresh poultry and are only receiving about half of our order.”
With challenges getting bigger birds and price increases, Britton said many customers — and her own food purchase orders — have pivoted.
It brought more beef products this year at better prices, helping families who may be struggling to get a hearty family meal on the table.
“We have prime ribs on sale for $8.99 a pound to help with the challenges, and we’ve seen a lot of people choose to go for it,” he told the newsroom. POST on the Thursday before Thanksgiving weekend. “Hams move just as fast.”
Pivot is a trend Abougouche and Britton are seeing more and more with everyday customers.
“Business has been strong, but there’s definitely a move towards no-name or PC products and larger format bulk items,” Britton said.
The two grocers also say their customer promotions and rewards card programs are attracting more sign-ups in recent months. Asked about their Thanksgiving thoughts, Abougouche and Britton both said they were grateful for their families, loyal customers, store staff and their home community.