Wealth firm adds up total costs in Christmas carol

AP, PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 7

Add seven swans, six geese and five golden rings to the list of Christmas gifts that cost more than they did a year ago.

And if you get all 364 items repeated throughout The Twelve Days of Christmas carol, you will pay 6.1 percent more this year, according to the annual Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

That comes to US$107,300.

“The rise is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we’ve had,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC.

He said the government’s Consumer Price Index has risen just 2 percent in the US in the 12 months before September.

Thrifty shoppers may find some reasons for cheer. Six items mentioned in the song have not gone up in price: maids-a-milking, ladies dancing, lords-a-leaping, calling birds, turtle doves and the partridge. The eight maids-a-milking still cost just US$58 because the minimum wage has not risen.

Twelve drummers drumming (US$2,775.50) and 11 pipers piping (US$2,562) might also be considered relative bargains compared to seven swans, which will set you back US$7,000. Nine ladies dancing will cost you US$6,294.03.

Dunigan said the drought last year caused the prices of some birds to soar, partly because of corn and other feed costs.

“The geese were up 29.6 percent and swans were up 11 percent,” Dunigan said, adding that none of the gifts in the song went down in price this year.

The price of a pear tree is US$189.99, an 11.8 percent jump from last year’s US$169.99. Five gold rings jumped 16.3 percent this year, to US$750 and three French hens are now US$165, instead of US$150.

The US$15 partridge is the cheapest item, and swans the most expensive, at US$1,000 each.

Last-minute shoppers who turn to the Internet will pay a bit more for the gifts.

Buying one set of the core items in each verse costs US$24,431 in traditional stores this year, but US$40,440 online. Part of that difference is the extra expense of shipping live birds, Dunigan said, adding that Internet costs rose 1.5 percent compared to last year.