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Burger prices are up. But your barbecue could still be relatively cheap

Burger patties, buns and ketchup prices are high. But even with the increases, your home-grilled burger could end up being relatively inexpensive this year thanks to steep discounts offered by retailers vying for budget-conscious customers.

In recent months, grocery prices have stayed flat and even started to fall. But some grilling staples are more expensive compared to last year.

In the 12 months through April 21, ground beef prices rose 6.4% by volume compared to the period from a year earlier, according to US retail sales data from Circana. Packaged hamburger and hot dog bun prices were up 7% while potato chips were up 6.9%.

Ground beef has gotten more expensive this year. - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Ground beef has gotten more expensive this year. - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Condiment prices saw a sharper jump with ketchup rising 8.9%, hot sauce increasing 7.6% and regular barbecue sauce spiking 14.6%.

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Some items had modest increases, like hot dogs, which went up by 1.4%.

But the increases don’t take into account the year’s many Memorial Day deals.

“This is going to be a year for aggressive discounting,” said Chris DuBois, EVP and practice leader for the fresh foods practice at Circana. Retailers “want to win the customer trip,” he said. “I would expect pretty sharp discounts to be able to bring people in.”

It’s discount season

Retailers often offer sale prices ahead of major holidays in order to lure in customers.

For stores, it can be worthwhile to break even, or take a loss, on certain discounted items in order just to get people in the door. Once inside, shoppers may well fill up their carts with full-priced items. But if they don’t, at least they won’t be shopping at a competitor.

This year, in particular, is stacking up to be a really good one for deals. Consumers remain worried about inflation and have been spending less as a result. Retailers, vying for much-needed foot traffic, have already been slashing prices, and are adding more discounts for the holiday.

Target recently said that it is lowering prices on thousands of items. In addition, the big-box retailer is offering a number of Memorial Day deals for a limited time, including buy one, get one 20% off ground beef and burgers for rewards members for May 19-27. Members also get a discount on soda in that period and all customers get a deal on chips.

Supermarket chain Kroger also has Memorial Day specials, including reduced rates for home brand sliced cheese, hamburger buns and potato chips.

Meanwhile, low-cost grocer Aldi, which has been gaining popularity with its no frills approach and bargain prices, is reducing the prices of steak and chicken breasts through July 10, among other deals.

Chicken products are among the items that have gotten less expensive this year, even before discounts. Chicken breast prices, for example, fell 2.5% in the year through April, according to Circana, while wings have plunged 9.2%.

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