Blame wages and tur­tle doves: ‘12 Days’ now costs $34,363

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY JOE MANDAK

PITTS­BURGH | The slow re­cov­ery of the U.S. econ­omy is con­tin­u­ing to keep the cost of Christ­mas — or at least the gifts listed in “The Twelve Days of Christ­mas” — from spi­ral­ing out of con­trol.

The price of two tur­tle doves jumped from $290 to $375 this year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol stayed the same price or be­came cheaper, in­clud­ing a par­tridge in a pear tree, ac­cord­ing to the 33rd an­nual PNC Wealth Man­age­ment Christ­mas Price In­dex re­leased Thursday.

As a re­sult, the over­all cost of the gifts listed in the song in­creased 0.7 per­cent to $34,363, up $233 from last year’s to­tal of $34,131.

PNC Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group re­leases the price in­dex each year as a whim­si­cal way of track­ing in­fla­tion.

Be­sides the tur­tle doves, only the cost of 11 pipers pip­ing and 12 drum­mers drum­ming — both up 2.8 per­cent — in­creased.

Thomas Melcher, chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer for PNC As­set Man­age­ment Group, said the in­creas­ing wages of drum­mers and pipers could sig­nal a march to­ward higher wages for a broader range of work­ers in 2017.

He said he wouldn’t be sur­prised to see in­creases com­ing for the eight maids-a-milk­ing, nine ladies danc­ing and 10 lords-a-leap­ing.

“There are some un­der­ly­ing in­fla­tion­ary pres­sures that seem to be build­ing,” Mr. Melcher said.

The price of five gold rings, as tracked by PNC, hasn’t gone up in three years, even though the price of gold as a com­mod­ity has.

“At a cer­tain point, the end prod­uct should be­gin to re­flect the price ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the com­mod­ity,” Mr. Melcher said.

PNC cal­cu­lates the prices from sources in­clud­ing re­tail­ers, bird hatch­eries and two Philadel­phia dance groups, the Penn­syl­va­nia Bal­let and Phi­ladanco.

The cost of buy­ing the same gifts on­line is $44,603 this year, up 2.2 per­cent from $43,627 last year.

But Mr. Melcher cau­tioned that’s largely be­cause it costs more to trans­port an­i­mals and per­form­ers — 10 lords-a-leap­ing cost $5,509 in-per­son, but $13,373 on­line be­cause of trans­porta­tion costs — than the cost of the items them­selves.

“In most in­stances, it’s cheaper to shop on­line,” Mr. Melcher said. “I’ve never per­son­ally shipped a swan, but I imag­ine it’s not the cheap­est en­deavor in the world.”

A buyer who pur­chased all the gifts each time they are men­tioned in the song would spend $156,507, up $1,100 from last year.

The full set of prices for pur­chas­ing the gifts from a bricks-and-mor­tar busi­ness, not on­line, is:

● Par­tridge, $20; last year: $25

● Pear tree, $190; last year: same

● Two tur­tle doves, $375; last year: $290

● Three French hens, $182; last year: same

● Four call­ing birds (ca­naries), $600; last year: same

● Five gold rings, $750; last year: same

● Six geese-a-lay­ing, $360; last year: same

● Seven swans a-swim­ming, $13,125; last year: same

● Eight maids a-milk­ing, $58; last year: same

● Nine ladies danc­ing (per per­for­mance), $7,553; last year: same

● 10 lords a-leap­ing (per per­for­mance), $5,509; last year: same

● 11 pipers pip­ing (per per­for­mance), $2,708; last year: $2,635

● 12 drum­mers drum­ming (per per­for­mance), $2,934; last year: $2,855

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The slow re­cov­ery of the U.S. econ­omy is keep­ing the cost of gifts listed in the song “The Twelve Days of Christ­mas” from spi­ral­ing out of con­trol.

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