Fourth of July spending: How much money Americans are dropping to celebrate the holiday

Most Americans are planning to celebrate the Fourth of July this year by attending a cookout or watching fireworks -- meaning that a lot of people are planning to spend some money, according to a recent survey.

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Of the 86 percent of Americans who plan to celebrate the holiday, 61 percent said they’ll attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic, according to the National Retail Federation. The group expects Americans to spend an average of $73.33 per person on food.

That’s about $6.78 billion altogether, according to the retailer group.

All of that food includes $804 million in beef, $371 million in chicken and $218 million in pork, according to data collected by WalletHub. Americans are also expected to buy $200 million in berries, $161 million of processed lunch meat and $134 million in cherries.

The Fourth of July is also America’s top beer-drinking holiday, according to WalletHub. It’s estimated that more than $1 billion was spent on beer and more than $568 million was spent on wine for Independence Day celebrations in 2018.

Twenty-six percent of Americans said they plan to buy some patriotic items for the holiday, the study found. Another 34 percent said they were unsure.

Americans spent $360 million on display fireworks and $945 million on consumer fireworks in 2018, and the American Pyrotechnics Association said consumer fireworks revenues could exceed $1 billion this year, with Independence Day being the most popular occasion for fireworks all year. More than 60 percent of fireworks-related injuries happened within the two weeks before and after the holiday last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

AAA estimated 49 million people are traveling for Fourth of July getaways this year. Drivers will likely find gas prices lower than last year, but average car rental rates are up 5 percent. Average airfares are also up 10 percent.

With all the traveling, eating and blowing stuff up, it can be easy to spend a lot on the holiday. WalletHub polled some experts on consumer issues about how to save while celebrating.

Jennifer A. Pope, an associate professor of international business and marketing at Grand Valley State University, suggested attending a public fireworks display rather than buying them for home.

“I have heard people say they spend hundreds of dollars a year on fireworks for 15 to 20 minutes of firework fun, and we also hear stories every year of people getting hurt and killed,” she said.

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Alexander Milovic, an assistant professor of practice at Marquette University, told WalletHub traveling on the holiday will also include paying a premium for hotels, resorts and theme parks.

“Not planning ahead and eating out for multiple meals can also hurt your budget,” he said.

Meanwhile, Alice S. Tsang, a professor of economics and business and director of global partnership at Gordon College, suggested waiting until after the holiday to buy patriotic merchandise at a discount for next year.