The Cost of Christmas

Every year, PNC compiles a price index for that famous list that includes golden rings and drummers drumming.

As part of its annual tradition, the wealth management firm calculates the “True Cost of Christmas”:  the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song’s verses. This holiday season is the most expensive year ever: very thoughtful True Loves must fork over $107,300.24 for all 364 gifts, an even more generous jump of 6% increase compared with last year.

Part of the reason for the increase was an improving economy coupled with a drought that caused increased feed costs for large birds.

Much like the government’s consumer price index, the PNC CPI also measures a core index, up a modest 3% this year, excluding the swans, which tend to be the most volatile in the index. (Swans rose by 11%, continuing the momentum of last year’s 12.5 % increase, to $7,000.)

Other key components include:

  • Six items—the partridge, two turtle doves, four calling birds, eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing and 10 lords a-leaping—remained at the same price as last year;
  • Sounding an increase: the prices for 11 pipers piping ($2,562.00) and 12 drummers drumming ($2,775.50) advanced this year, both up 5.5%;
  • Pear tree: Economists report that housing prices may have bottomed and this trend is reflected in the PNC index as the home to the partridge jumped 12%, to $189.99;
  • The three French hens were up 10%, and the five golden rings, which soared 16%, played catch-up with the dramatic rise in gold prices in 2011; and
  • Maids a-milking: As the only unskilled laborers in the PNC CPI, the price for the eight maids a-milking is represented by the minimum wage.  With the minimum wage flat at $7.25 per hour, hiring the maids this year will not increase labor costs.

The PNC CPI’s sources include retailers, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia-based Philadanco and Pennsylvania Ballet Company.

The entire index and related information are online.