Christmas is more expensive this year. 3.5% more expensive:
Giving the holiday presents of a French hen, a milking maid, a leaping lord or even a partridge in a pear tree is rather unlikely in this day and age. But the gifts from the favorite holiday carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” are lighthearted clues to how the economy is faring.
Over all, prices are fairly stable and not rising precipitously for even the quirkier gifts, according to the Christmas Price Index released for the 28th year by PNC Wealth Management, part of the PNC Financial Services Group. On the down side, the price tag for the eye-popping 364 items and services in each of the song’s verses breaks $100,000 for the first time this year.
Gold, for example — as in the five golden rings — has fallen in price. Those rings (fairly lightweight ones, one would think) come to $645, down from $649.95 last year. Even though gold commodities, an investor haven, have been hovering at record highs recently, the demand for gold at retail has been weakening.
Unsurprisingly, labor costs remained fairly flat. The nine ladies dancing, for example, remained static, at $6,294, the same as last year, according to figures from Philadanco, a dance company in Philadelphia. The 11 pipers piping, at a price of $2,427.60, and 12 drummers drumming, for $2,629.90, were up modestly, about 3 percent. The only unskilled laborers in the verses are the eight maids-a-milking, who are calculated as earning the $7.25 minimum hourly wage. That wage did not rise in 2011 for the second straight year, so their cost stayed the same.
The price tag for one round of gifts is $24,263.18 this year, up $823.80 from last year. Repeating the gifts totaled slightly more than $101,000, a gain of 4.4 percent, also close to the federal price index.
It would be fun to “gift” the 12 days of Christmas one year.