July 4 generates some serious BBQ business

Fire up the grill and break out the red, white and blue cutlery. This July Fourth is going to bring sizzling food and retail sales totaling $6.6 billion, a 6.4 percent increase from last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Whether it's potato salad, barbecue meat or buns, the average American household will spend $71.23 on food items this year for Independence Day, up from last year's average of $68.16.

The uptick in spending is likely a mix of factors including higher food prices and a general trend in more consumer spending. The consumer price index for grocery store food items—a measure of price change—is 0.6 percent higher than last May.

The increased July 4 food spending comes despite a 60 percent decrease in the cost of propane on a year over year basis and a price drop to certain foods like poultry and beer.

Most of the data on people's plans from this year was in line with last year's findings, with a slight uptick in those attending a barbecue, cookout or picnic.

Like last year, about 11 percent of survey responders won't be celebrating July Fourth at all.

The National Retail Federation's 2015 Independence Day survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, surveyed 6,431 consumers between June 2-9, 2015.

For several food industries, July 4 means the beginning of a crucial sale period.

"July Fourth is huge for us," said Bob Morrissey, executive director of National Watermelon Association, a group of about 500 growers. With the exception of those impacted by severe rainfall in Texas, most watermelon growers have seen a good season, said Morrissey.

Hot dog sales also peak on July 4 weekend.

"It's the single biggest weekend for hot dog sales," said Eric Mittenthal, vice president of public affairs at the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

About 150 million hot dogs are sold over the July 4th weekend, according to Mittenthal.

Hamburgers won't be cheap this year. Ground beef costs about 7 percent more this year, accounting for inflation at $4.136 per pound. This is just below the 10 year historical high of $4.235 per pound this past January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chicken prices have inched down this year the aftermath of an avian flu outbreak. With multiple countries banning or partially banning U.S. poultry exports, there's been downward pressure on retail chicken prices, according to the USDA. Chicken prices are down about 2 percent from last year, with inflation factored in.

Party-throwers will be also paying slightly less for beer than they did last year. Prices of all malt products are down about 4 percent compared to last year.

For backyard grillers and celebrity chefs alike, this year's Fourth of July will mean a lot of delicious food purchases.