Labor Costs Lift Christmas Index Costs

November 27, 2006 ( - True loves will have to dig a bit deeper this year to fulfill the financial commitment associated with the Twelve Days of Christmas.

According to the 22 nd annual PNC Christmas Price Index, the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is $18,920 in 2006, up 3.1% from last year.   The tongue-in-cheek economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management is based on the cost of gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The largest dollar increase this year resulted from rising labor costs, which exceeded the rate of inflation for the first time in years, according to a press release.   According to Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Company, nine Ladies Dancing earned $4,759, 4% more than last year, while the Lords-a-Leaping earned 3% more in 2006.   The musicians, Drummers Drumming and Pipers Piping, earned 3.4% more compared with 2005.

Maids-a-Milking, who are paid the minimum wage ($5.15/hour), were the only service providers not to see an increase this year.  

Partridge Pairings

However, the largest percentage increase came from the Partridge’s home, as Pear Tree prices increased 44% from last year.   Ironically, the residential housing boom was cited as a culprit here, as “robust commercial construction” spurred landscapers’ demand for ornamental trees, such as the species of pear used in the survey.

However, there is apparently no increase in cost for the Partridge itself or most other birds,   as the cost of fuel to ship them leveled off, according to The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The exceptions were birds purchased at retail stores. Calling Birds, which are purchased at a national pet store chain, increased 20%, for example.   Moreover, the price for Gold Rings was flat compared to last year, even though the price of gold rose significantly.

This year PNC Wealth Management also calculated the cost of The Twelve Days gifts purchased on the Web. This year, the trends identified in the traditional index are repeated in the Internet version, with overall growth of 3.4%, compared to 3.1% in the traditional index. Wages are up, with the Drummers earning almost 100% more when purchased on the Internet in 2006 compared with an Internet purchase in 2005. And, as with the traditional Christmas Price Index, bird prices are even or, in some cases, down a bit from 2005 levels. In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs.

Additionally, 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 will pay more than ever before – $75,122 – for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005,   though the 3.5% increase is well off the 9.5% increase in last year’s report.

You can check out a historical look at PNC’s Index at