Holiday Cheer: “12 Days of Christmas” Gifts Rise Just
0.6 Percent in Price

The PNC Christmas Price Index predicts True Loves will be on their merry way to a more robust and satisfying holiday shopping season this year.

Purchasing the gifts included in the classic holiday song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” will only cost 0.6 percent more than in 2016, according to the 34th annual holiday economic analysis by The PNC Financial Services Group.

PNC calculated the 2017 price tag for the PNC Christmas Price Index at $34,558.65. That’s just $200 or 0.6 percent more than last year’s cost and less than the government’s Consumer Price Index, which increased 2.2 percent through September for the past 12 months.

“The U.S. economy is growing at a sustainable pace, fueled by higher consumer confidence, low unemployment, modest wage gains and low interest rates,” said Thomas P. Melcher, chief investment officer for PNC Asset Management Group.

However, the PNC Christmas Price Index rose at slow, steady pace of 0.6 percent in 2017, as companies appear hesitant to pass price increases to the consumer.

cpi partridge

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The Cost of Christmas Past and Present

The cost of each item was revealed on PNC’s interactive website, which teaches consumers about the index and features a historical comparison of index data. Of the 12 items measured by the index, nine held steady from last year, while the price of three items increased since 2016:

  • A Partridge in a Pear Tree: The overall price for this top-of-list item increased 4.7 percent, but not because of the partridge. The pear tree increased 5.2 percent, from $189.99 to $199.95 due to a higher cost of living for workers and the limited supply of larger, more mature trees.
  • Gold Rings: The largest growth rate in this year’s index was the cost of five gold rings, which jumped 10 percent due to increased demand and popularity. Prices had remained steady at $750 for the last five years.
  • Lords-a-Leaping: Despite wages rising modestly and a tight job market, the lords-a-leaping saw an increase, as prices jumped two percent to $5,618.90 after two years of stagnant growth.

cpi 5 golden rings

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As part of its annual tradition, PNC also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items bestowed by a True Love who repeats all the song’s verses. Purchasing all 364 gifts will require $157,558, up approximately $1,000 from last year and more than $57,000 from 1984 – the first year of index data.

For those True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online, the PNC Christmas Price Index also calculates the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts purchased on the Internet. As online prices tend to be higher due to travel and shipping costs, True Loves will have to splurge $45,096 ($10,538 more than in-store purchases) for the convenience of online shopping this year.

To mirror the government’s core Consumer Price Index, which excludes energy and food prices, PNC removes the swans – typically the most volatile item in the index – from its total index. The core PNC Christmas Price Index was up 0.9 percent from a year ago, while the government’s core Consumer Price Index was up 1.7 percent year-over-year through September.

The PNC index’s sources include retailers, hatcheries, the Philadelphia-based PHILADANCO and the Pennsylvania Ballet Company.

cpi lords a leaping

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A Gift for Teachers

Each year, educators across the country use the PNC Christmas Price Index to teach middle and high school students about inflation and economic trends. The PNC Christmas Price Index website provides interactive educational tools for teachers to help their students learn about the stock market.

Through the site, teachers have access to a lesson plan from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) that explains the PNC Christmas Price Index, its significance and how to interpret its results. The activities in the lesson plan also help students make predictions about this year’s cost of Christmas.

Learn more about PNC’s Christmas Price Index »

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

$219.95 (+4.7%)

ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

5 GOLDEN RINGS

$825.00 (+10.0%)

ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

10 LORDS A LEAPING

$5,618.90 (+2.0%)

Tom Melcher
Thom Melcher says the PNC Christmas Price Index rose 0.6 percent in 2017, as companies appear hesitant to pass price increases to the consumer

The Christmas Price Index Evolution

A PNC predecessor bank in Philadelphia began estimating the cost of the 12 Christmas gifts in 1984 as a holiday client letter. This year’s price is 83 percent higher than the inaugural report 33 years ago.