Fall is here, and this marks the unofficial beginning of pumpkin spice season (even though these beloved autumn-themed products hit retailers at the end of summer). Delicious beverages and tasty treats flavored with the large, rounded orange-yellow squash, all created to satisfy those pumpkin-loving taste buds.
However yummy these foods and drinks might be, in the past, they cost you extra bucks. MagnifyMoney, a personal finance site owned by LendingTree, conducted a study in 2022 that found consumers are paying more in the form of a “pumpkin spice tax.” They explain that “pumpkin spice tax” is a “demand-based pricing strategy where retailers mark up the price for a pumpkin-flavored item.” That’s right, you are paying more for that pumpkin cake mix or PSL versus something without the addition of pumpkin.
So, how much is the average “pumpkin spice tax”? According to the study, customers paid an average of 14.1% more for the pumpkin spice-flavored version of an item in 2022; this figure is across 80 analyzed grocery and coffee products from six retailers. Compared to a few years prior, this is a sharp increase: the average pumpkin spice tax was 8.8% in 2020 (MagnifyMoney did not conduct the study in 2021).
You may wonder, what did the study find is the largest pumpkin spice-related markup? That would be pretzels. For example, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels cost 161.1% more than its Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks — 50 cents an ounce versus 19 cents an ounce, respectively.
Will the “pumpkin spice tax” rise or fall in 2023? We don’t know yet, but we hope you enjoy all of the baked goods, lattes, dips, snacks, and more products during this cozy, foliage-filled time of year.