Christmas Price Index Jumps 9.2 Percent

Despite a sluggish economy and low inflation, the 2010 PNC Christmas Price Index surged 9.2 percent in the whimsical economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management based on the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

This was informed today (Nov. 29) by PNC Financial Services, a leading diversified financial services organization.

According to the 27th annual survey, the price tag for the PNC CPI is $23,439 in 2010, $1,974 more than last year.

This is the second highest jump ever and largest percentage increase since 2003 when the index rose 16 percent. That comes on the heels of a modest 1.8 percent increase a year ago.

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The PNC Christmas Price Index is similar to the Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation and more that reflect the spending habits of the average American.

The goods and services in the PNC Christmas Price Index are far more whimsical. But most years, their price changes closely mirror those in the Consumer Price Index, says PNC. It’s a fun way to measure consumer spending and trends in the economy.

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“This year’s jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 percent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers,” said James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management.

Although these trends affect both indexes, the PNC CPI’s surge is in marked contrast to the government’s CPI, which grew a mere 1.1 percent, illustrating the difference in size of the two baskets of goods and services.

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Among the 12 gifts in the PNC CPI, only four items (Pear Tree, Four Calling Birds, Six Geese a–Laying and the Eight Maids-a-Milking) were the same price from last year.

The 11 Pipers Piping ($2,356) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,552) saw modest increases, both up 3.1 percent, however these higher costs give greater weight to the index.

Lords-a-Leaping jumped 8 percent to $4,766 but the biggest dollar increase this year was for the Nine Ladies Dancing, up $820, a 15 percent boost.

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None of these performers received a wage increase last year, and were playing catch-up in 2010, says PNC.

PNC Wealth Management also calculates the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts purchased on the Internet.

This year, it says, the trends identified in the traditional index are repeated in the Internet version, with the core rates more than total rates.

“In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online,” Dunigan said.

For a historical look at PNC’s index, the updated website can be viewed at

RMN News

Rakesh Raman