Thursday, December 14, 2017
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The cost of '12 Days of Christmas' items tops $34,000, up 0.6 percent

PITTSBURGH — Lords a-leaping is the U.S. economy slow to recover!

The cost of 10 lords a-leaping increased 3 percent over last year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas stayed the same price as last year, according to the 32nd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index released Monday.

The index is a whimsical way the Pittsburgh-based bank tracks inflation.

The set of gifts spelled out in the final verse of the song would cost $34,131 this year, or 0.6 percent more than the adjusted 2014 price of $33,933. PNC decided to adjust the historic prices of turtle doves and swans after realizing the prices quoted by vendors didn't reflect the birds' overall value on the open market over the years.

"The headline, I think, is that inflation in this economy, with the sort of tepid recovery we've seen, is almost nonexistent," said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer of PNC's asset management group.

While the good news is that the price of consumer goods isn't rising very much, it also means demand for those goods is down, at least partly due to wage stagnation.

The government's Consumer Price Index has pegged inflation at about 0.2 percent, Dunigan said.

The only other items to increase in price since last year were a partridge in a pear tree and two turtle doves.

The bird in the bush rose 3.5 percent overall, mostly because partridges now cost $25 each, up from $20, because partridges are increasingly popular as gourmet food. Pear trees inched up from $188 to just under $190.

Turtle doves increased 11.5 percent, from $260 to $290, mostly due to increased grain prices that pushed up feed costs.

The lords a-leaping are more expensive because labor costs increased their price from $5,348 to $5,509.

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

A buyer who purchased all the items each time they are mentioned in the song would spend $155,407.18.

The full set of prices:

• Partridge, $25; last year: $20

• Pear tree, $190; last year: $188

• Two turtle doves, $290; last year: $260

• 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), $5,508; last year: $5,348

• 11 pipers piping (per performance), $2,635; last year: same

• 12 drummers drumming (per performance), $2,855; last year: same

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