Holiday costs: Airfares and car prices are up, but not flat-screen TVs

The cost of a new car or airfare is expensive this holiday season. But consumers can get a good deal on flat-screen TVs.

By , Staff writer

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    Brandon Rudd (c.) walks out with his buddy Shaheed Azeem (r.) with a 40 inch HDTV at a Target store at the Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, Ariz.
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Although inflation is not a major issue this holiday period, it won't be too far away – especially if you are planning to travel.

But if you plan to stay home to watch your new flat-screen TV, you probably will get it for less than you would have paid last year. For the most part, retailers are absorbing cost increases in an effort to avoid scaring away consumers. For example, the price of gold is up 22 percent since January, but many jewelers are just eating the extra cost.

"The profit picture is decreasing," says John Anshus of Anshus Jewelry in Monomonie, Wis. "We're just trying to keep the price within a certain window."

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Airfares are probably one of the most noticeably higher expenses for many consumers.

Looking at the Top 50 cities by airport traffic, FareCompare.com found fares up 17 percent compared with last year.

A holiday nonstop round trip from Boston to Miami will cost you $608, compared with fares in the $400 range last year, says Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of the Dallas-based firm.

Plan to surprise someone with the gift of a new vehicle? That will likely cost more this year as well. That's because auto-makers are limiting the availability of entry-level vehicles, forcing buyers to purchase more expensive models, says James Bell, executive market analyst for automotive index Kelley Blue Book, a company based in Irvine, Calif., that publishes vehicle value data.

If you do plan to sit home and watch that TV for the holidays, that will be cheaper, says Kevin Strawbridge, president of Plano, Texas-based DealTaker.com. He predicts there will be 32-inch LCD flat-screen sets for under $200 this year. Electronic games are priced about 10 percent less than a year ago, too, he says.

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