Christmas Price Index 2013: Cost of '12 Days of Christmas' Items


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It is that time of year again when PNC Wealth Management calculates the annual Christmas Price Index.

Twenty-nine years ago the chief economist at a PNC predecessor bank decided to figure out just how much it would cost to buy all the gifts identified in "The 12 Days of Christmas" song, 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 others 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 $27,393.17, a 7.7% increase over last year's total cost of $25,431.18.


The 2013 Christmas Price Index is 116% higher than the initial 1984 index. Inflation is up 122% over the same period.

The biggest percentage increase this year involved performing artists. The cost of nine ladies dancing was up 20%. The ten leaping lords also received a 10% increase. Each dancing lady earned $839.20, while each leaping lord was paid $524.34. Apparently there is more demand for dancing ladies than leaping lords. The musicians in the group, pipers and drummers, got a 2.9% raise, each earning about $238.00. As usual the performing artists' union did better for their members then the musicians' union.

Four calling birds cost 15.4% more this year. While most other items remained the same as 2012, the cost of the pear tree in which a partridge sat actually dropped 3.2%.

There was no increase in the federal minimum wage this year, so the eight maids-a-milking, considered unskilled labor, did not get a pay raise.


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 $114,651.18 for all 364 gifts, a 6.9% increase over last year.

True Loves who prefer the convenience of shopping online will pay a total of $39,762.62, a drop of 1.7% from 2012.

"In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online," said James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

--Written by Robert Flach for MainStreet. Robert Flach is an expert with almost 40 years of experience as a tax professional and also blogs as The Wandering Tax Pro.

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