True Loves are Urged to Bargain Shop

PNC puts a price tag on the holiday classic “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and this year, consumers appeared to be cautiously optimistic spenders.  

If you want to buy that special someone the gifts included in the holiday classic “The 12 Days of Christmas,” they will only cost 0.7 percent more than in 2015, according to the 33rd annual economic analysis by PNC.

The price tag for the 2016 PNC Christmas Price Index (CPI) is at $34,363.49, just $232.50 up from 2015. PNC also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” the total cost of items with all of the song’s verses repeated. Purchasing all 364 gifts will require $156,507, up more than $1,000 from 2015 and more than $56,000 from 1984.

Mirroring the government’s Consumer Price Index, the slight rise in the Christmas Price Index reflects slow U.S. economic growth and wage inflation caused by an increase in some holiday entertainment options.

True Loves should shop early to catch this year’s bargains before a potential Federal Reserve rate increase, which would likely raise consumer borrowing costs. The convenience of online shopping also comes at a cost. Online shoppers will have to spend $44,602 for the gifts, $10,239 more than traditional shopping.  

Of the 12 items, only four changed in price:

  • Pipers Piping: Wage inflation made some entertainment options more costly this year, including pipers piping. The cost for 11 pipers increased for the first time since 2013, from $2,635 to $2,708.
  • Drummers Drumming: The price for 12 drummers drumming rose to $2,934 due to increased pay.
  • Turtle Doves: The cost of these birds soared 29 percent to $375 due to a bird shortage. A turtle dove only lays two to three clutches a year, and with only two eggs per clutch, these lovebirds a hard gift to find.
  • A Partridge in a Pear Tree: The real bargain this year is the partridge, which dropped 20 percent in price to $20, due to an increase in supply. Combined with the pear tree, the price for this gift fell to $210.

Learn more about the PNC Christmas Price Index »

Christmas Price Index graphic
One partridge in a pear tree costs $209.99, down 2.3 percent from 2015. Two turtle doves cost $375, up a whopping 29.3 percent from 2015. Three french hens cost $181.50, while four calling birds ring in at $599.96. Five golden rings cost $750. Six geese cost $360, yet seven swans will set you back $13,125. Labor from eight milk maids costs $58. Nine dancers cost $7,552.84 and ten leaping lords cost $5,508.70. Eleven pipers cost $2,708.40, up 2.8 percent from 2015, and finally, twelve drummers will set you back $2,934.10, 2.8 percent more than in 2015.
Stuart Hoffman
Thomas Melcher, chief investment officer for the PNC Asset Management Group, notes that the Christmas Price Index reflects the lighter side of the trends the investment group follows to make sense of the economy and markets for its clients.
RebeccaMcCahan
Rebekah McCahan has calculated the Christmas Price Index since 1986

PNC and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) provide teachers with free, interactive lesson plans that use the PNC CPI to teach middle and high school students about inflation, the stock market and economic trends.