PITTSBURGH -- Making one's true love happy will cost a whopping $87,403 this year, a minuscule increase from last year, according to the latest cost analysis of the items in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.
That's the grand total for the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The price is up a mere $794, or less than 1 percent, from $86,609 last year.
The cost of buying each item just once is increasing this year to $21,466, up 1.8 percent from last year's $21,081.
Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management, which has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984, attributed the modest increase to lower energy costs and fewer wage increases.
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It's the smallest increase since 2002, when the cost actually decreased, according to PNC.
The main driver behind the higher cost is that the price of gold has increased 43 percent, bringing the five gold rings up $150 to $500.
Although wage increases were modest, nine ladies dancing, at $5,473 per performance, is the costliest item, surpassing that of any of the material goods.
The most expensive goods are the seven swans a-swimming at $5,250, but their cost decreased 6.3 percent from last year's $5,600. Dunigan said their cost tends to be the most volatile because of supply and demand; they were up 33 percent last year over 2007.
Costs for the 10 lords a-leaping ($4,414 per performance), 11 pipers piping ($2,285 per performance) and 12 drummers drumming ($2,475 per performance) remained the same as last year. Dunigan says that reflects the labor market in which the unemployment rate rose to near 10 percent after sitting below 5 percent for much of the decade.
And for those who would shop online, a word of caution.
PNC says you'll pay $31,435, which is down from last year's online price, but still about $10,000 more than in the traditional index.
"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.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. checks jewelry stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list. While it is done humorously, PNC said its index mirrors real economic trends.
Besides putting out the list for fun, PNC makes it available to teachers across the country to teach economic trends.
While it's unlikely anyone would buy the items, Dunigan said one item is likely to please.
"We don't necessarily suggest picking just one, but it's hard to believe that gold rings wouldn't lead the list on a year-to-year basis," Dunigan said.
* On the net: PNC Christmas Price Index, www.pncchristmaspriceindex.com