LEAWOOD, Kan. — Thanksgiving is next week, and a holiday tradition will go on for hundreds of Kansas City metro families this year, even though the people who make it possible were likely starting to sweat a little.
Every year, hundreds of people line up outside Fritz’s Meats and Superior Sausage in Leawood to pick up turkeys, hams and even brisket for Thanksgiving dinner. In 2020, the store said it helped about 1,000 customers in the days leading up to the holiday.
Many people held smaller gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and Fritz’s Meats ran out of the smaller turkeys that were in demand.
This year, supply chain issues are causing headaches for the popular store and many others. While Fritz’s expects to have more turkeys available than it did last year, Fritz’s said its order arrived a week late.
Now employees are scrambling to get everything ready leading up to the Thanksgiving rush.
“People want to spend time with the families, obviously,” store manager Kurt McDonald said.
Fritz’s said it’s playing catch up now so employees can be ready to help the long line of customers that will show up soon.
Just like in the past, employees said they plan to help as many people as possible get the perfect Thanksgiving meal on the dinner table.
Supply chain issues aren’t just hurting Fritz’s. Experts say the demand for Thanksgiving turkeys might be higher than the supply.
Smaller meat markets are likely to feel the shortage’s pinch. It isn’t as easy for those businesses to lower costs as compared to large retailers.
Many analysts report a 20% hike in turkey costs. On Monday, Forbes reported the average cost for fresh turkeys ($1.44/pound) and frozen turkeys ($1.35/pound) were both down slightly from the previous week, but both figures remain all-time highs.
Dr. Joe Walden, a supply chain management professor with the University of Kansas School of Business, said rising costs in shipping and fuel have driven costs up, and major retailers are unlikely to lower what they charge customers.
“Right now, it’s a cost they can’t afford to eat. There’s so many things that are in grocery stores that are low-margin items. They can’t afford to eat too much without cutting into their own profits and profitability. They’ll have to pass it on to us,” Walden said.