San Francisco, Nov 25 (EFE).- Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving in a more “normal” fashion compared to last year, with millions of people across the United States having reunited with family members to enjoy a home-cooked turkey feast.
Higher inflation, however, is putting somewhat of a damper on the holiday cheer.
Unlike in 2020, many Americans are traveling long distances to visit family and friends and shrugging off the uptick in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The return to normality is seen in figures published by the Transportation Security Administration, which said air traffic between last Thursday and Wednesday climbed to its highest level since the onset of the pandemic in the US in March of last year.
A total of 2.31 million people were screened by the TSA at airports nationwide on Wednesday, or 88 percent of the traffic registered on the equivalent Wednesday in 2019.
But the TSA projects that the busiest air travel day will be Sunday, when around 2.4 million people are expected to return home by plane at the conclusion of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The higher numbers for air and highway travel coincide with a recent rise in coronavirus infections, but President Joe Biden’s administration has ruled out following Europe’s lead and imposing new lockdowns or closures of non-essential businesses.
According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, the US has registered 48.1 million coronavirus cases and more than 775,000 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, both of which are the highest numbers worldwide.
Elevated inflation also is a cause for concern for American consumers, with the American Farm Bureau Federation estimating that the price of this year’s Thanksgiving feast is up 14 percent over 2020.
According to that insurance company and lobbying group representing the American agriculture industry, the ingredients for preparing a dinner for 10 people, including classic Thanksgiving foods like turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, cost $53.31 on average.
A 16-pound (7.3-kilo) turkey – the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving dinners – costs an average of $23.99, 24 percent more than last year.
US annual inflation rose to 6.2 percent in October amid strong consumer demand and pandemic-triggered global supply chain bottlenecks, the biggest 12-month rise in the all-items consumer price index since 1990, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
October marked the fifth consecutive month in which the 12-month change in the all-items CPI was above 5 percent.
Gasoline prices rose 6.1 percent last month relative to September and 49.6 percent compared to October 2020, making it more expensive for people to travel by car during the Thanksgiving holidays.
The day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US, with American consumers lured to malls and stores by discounted prices.
But inflation and the supply chain problems figure to make this Christmas shopping season particularly expensive and frustrating, with customers likely to have trouble finding some in-demand items. EFE