Twenty-seven years ago the chief economist at PNC decided to figure out how much it would cost to buy the gifts identified in "The 12 Days of Christmas," which has come to be known as the “Christmas Price Index”. It is similar to the federal Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation and more that reflect the spending habits of the average American.
This year the cost to purchase each of the gifts in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is $23,439.38, a 9.2% increase over last year’s total cost of $21,465.56. This is the second highest jump in the history of the Index, and the largest percentage increase since 2003, when the index grew by 16%. Last year’s increase was a modest 1.8%.
So how come the IRS and the Social Security Administration says there is no inflation to warrant COLAs?
According to James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management –
"This year's jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30%, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers.”
The biggest percentage increases involved birds – due to “the costs of feed as well as the availability and demand for certain feathered friends”. The Two Turtle Doves increased 78.6% to $100.00 and the Three French hens surged 233% to $150.00.
As there was no increase in the federal minimum wage this year the eight Maids-a-Milking, considered unskilled labor, did not get a pay raise.
Once again Dancing Ladies were the highest paid of the performers, earning almost $700.00 each, a 15% raise from 2009. The Leaping Lords got an 8% raise to bring their pay to about $477.00 per Lord. As usual the performing artists’ union did better for their members then the musicians’ union. Pipers and Drummers received a mere 3.1% raise, each earning between $212.00 and $214.00.
As part of its annual tradition, PNC Wealth Management also tabulates the "True Cost of Christmas," which is the total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses. This holiday season, very generous True Loves have to fork over $96,824.00 for all 364 gifts, a 10.8% increase over last year.
True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online pay a grand total of $34,336.00. "In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online," James Dunigan explains.