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High food prices don't slow Fourth of July sales

July 04, 2008|By JOSH SHAW

Rising food and gas prices have not kept consumers from stocking up on cookout necessities in preparation for the holiday weekend.

Americans will purchase more hot dogs, ground beef and carbonated beverages in the four-week period surrounding the Fourth of July than at any other point during the year, according to new research conducted by The Nielsen Co.

"Rising food prices are not going to keep consumers from enjoying traditional, festive summer cookouts," Tom Pirovano, director of Industry Insights at The Nielsen Co., said in a press release on the Web. "There's no doubt it's going to cost them more, but they are still going to have their favorites."

Holsinger's Market Manager Robby Holsinger said that customers have been buying the traditional meats such as hot dogs, hamburgers and steaks for grilling.

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"Summer is a slower time of year for us but we get a lot of business for the summer holidays, especially in the week leading up to (the Fourth of July)," he said. "We try to stay competitive and have had to raise prices a little, but no customers have been dissatisfied with the service," Holsinger said.

The Smithsburg Market has had holiday traffic, but not as much as in past years, Manager Bonnie Renard said.

"We are experiencing trends that we haven't seen before," she said. "People are waiting until the last minute and the economy has really affected people. We thank our stars that people still need to eat."

Martin's Food Markets and Giant Food Stores are aware that food plays a central role in any holiday celebration and the stores make an effort to showcase holiday-specific foods, according to company spokeswoman Tracy Pawelski.

Things like hot dogs, hamburgers, rolls and condiments are big sellers across the country, she said.

Freshly baked hot dog buns and potato chips have seen the most dramatic price increases, according to Nielsen.

Mustard, lettuce, charcoal, cheese slices, pickles, relish and carbonated beverages are all more expensive than they were last Fourth of July, according to Nielsen.

The holiday is also responsible for the biggest sales period of carbonated beverages during the summer.

Then there's beer.

"Traffic increases around the holiday," said Gary Greenwald, an employee at Halfway Liquors in Hagerstown. "It is the biggest beer holiday of the summer. People spend time outdoors having picnics and parties."

Greenwald said that high gas prices might be keeping more people at home and those who usually would go on vacation are buying alcohol for local festivities.

Michelle Roth, a manager at Central City Liquors, said her store was also busy this week.

"They are buying everything for the most part, we are busy all the time," she said. "It is that time for parties and picnics and with high gas prices people need to find relief somewhere, so beer can help."

By the numbers box



During the four-week period surrounding the Fourth of July, Americans buy more hot dogs and carbonated beverages than at any other time during the year. Here are the sales during this period as estimated by The Nielsen Co.

Hot Dogs

110 million pounds

$215 million

Frozen Ground Beef

32 million pounds

$71 million

Fresh Ground Beef

25 million pounds

$117 million

Carbonated Beverages

240 million cases

$1.5 billion

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