We may be paying a price for our pumpkin-spice cravings.
A new study from the MagnifyMoney.com website has found that retailers routinely charge more for pumpkin-spice items than for the standard versions of those same products — in fact, a lot more. On average, the pumpkin-spice “tax,” as MagnifyMoney.com dubs it, is 14.1%.
That’s a significant increase from 2020, which was the last time MagnifyMoney looked at the pumpkin-spice pricing differential. At that time, the “tax” was 8.8%.
“I think companies are finding it’s a great way to capitalize on a seasonal trend,” said Ismat Mangla, executive editor of MagnifyMoney.com. “As long as consumers are willing to pay for it, they can take advantage of it.” MagnifyMoney.com, which is owned by LendingTree, offers information on how to manage and grow your money.
Craig Agranoff, a Florida-based marketing expert, put it this way: “It’s Retailing 101.”
Some retailers really push the pumpkin-spice upcharge to the upper limits, the 2022 study noted. A case in point: Trader Joe’s, the supermarket chain beloved for its low prices, charges 161.1% more for its Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels than for its Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks. The retailer also charges 49.9% more for its Pumpkin Spice Hummus than for its Mediterranean Style Hummus.
And what about Starbucks
the coffee chain that made pumpkin spice a household favorite? The study found that it levies an 18.3% “tax” on its ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL), with a standard 16-ounce latte running $5.45 and the PSL costing $6.45.
Trader Joe’s and Starbucks didn’t respond to a MarketWatch request for comment.
Agranoff said consumers are probably willing to pay more for pumpkin-spice products without complaining because the products are not considered essentials. By contrast, consumers tend to be very sensitive when it comes to price increases on items they need to buy on a regular basis, such as milk or gasoline.
Still, not every retailer is asking consumers to shell out more for pumpkin-spice products. Target
charged less for several items versus the standard ones, the MagnifyMoney.com study found. One example: A bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano pumpkin-spice cookies was 14.3% cheaper than the traditional Milano cookies at Target.
Regardless of whether the price is higher or lower, Mangla of MagnifyMoney.com isn’t one to buy these products. “Personally, I’m over pumpkin spice,” she said.