Christmas Price Index Up 3.1%

Christmas Price Index Up 3.1%
December 7th, 2007  

Topic: Christmas Price Index Up 3.1%

Christmas Price Index Up 3.1%
Christmas Price Index Up 3.1%

The significantly higher price of gold and increased compensation for minimum wage workers will make Christmas more expensive this year, according to the PNC Christmas Price Index.

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."

According to the 23rd annual survey, the cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is $19,507 in 2007, a 3.1 percent increase over last year. The rise in gift prices mirrored the U.S. government's Consumer Price Index - a widely used measure of inflation calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index is up 2.8 percent so far this year.

"Ringing" in a Pricier New Year

True Loves will have to pay a bit more for the five Gold Rings this year, as the jewelers who provide the prices for the rings report having no choice but to pass increased prices along to consumers as the price of gold continues to rise. The price of five gold rings now totals $395, a 21.5 percent increase over 2006 prices, but still nowhere close to 1989 prices, when the five Gold Rings hit an all-time high of $750.

Milkmaids Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase

As the only unskilled laborers in the Christmas Price Index, the eight Maids-a-Milking make minimum wage, and have not had a raise since 1997. This year, Congress increased their wages by 13.6 percent; bringing the cost of eight Maids-a- Milking for one hour of work to $46.80. The True Love will have to reach deeper into his pockets for the milkmaids in 2008 and 2009, as well - Congress has already approved continued increases to the minimum wage for the next two years.

The cost of most performers in the index - the Drummers Drumming, Pipers Piping and Lords-a-Leaping - rose a modest 3 to 4 percent, due primarily to an increase in the performers' compensation, reflecting the current labor market in which the unemployment rate is still below 5 percent. Only the price for the Ladies Dancing was unchanged this year, according to Philadanco, a modern dance company in Philadelphia.

Food Prices Are For the Birds

Among the feathered friends in the Christmas Price Index, the most notable increase was a 20 percent change in the price for six Geese-a-Laying, provided by the National Aviary.

"For True Loves planning to serve a Christmas goose - or six - for a holiday meal, this item will be a bit more expensive," said Dunigan. "Food prices have increased over the last year, which has not impacted birds like Turtle Doves and Partridges, but has had an impact on birds traditionally served as food, like Geese."

Most of the other bird prices in the index remained even with last year's rates, thanks to steady supply and demand for Partridges, Turtle Doves, French Hens and Swans. Aside from the Geese-a- Laying, only the Calling Birds will cost more in 2007. PNC prices the Calling Birds from a national pet store chain, and prices for Calling Birds (or canaries) were up 25 percent this year, thanks to higher demand and increased shipping costs for retailers.
December 8th, 2007  

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