Cost of Christmas Rising, Slightly

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Ladies dancing? That'll be $8,322.55
Ladies dancing? That’ll be $7,552.84

Ready for holiday fun? PNC Bank is here to remind you that 12 Days of Christmas can add up.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree sounds like a great thing to have when you sing it. But if you wanted to buy one for a Christmas present, PNC Bank has calculated that it’ll cost $207.68. In fact, you may want to keep your true love in suspense for another year, since the cost rose 3.8 percent since 2013. Partridge food isn’t cheap, you know.

The elusive gift’s cost was in the spotlight as PNC Bank unveiled its annual Christmas Price Index to the hustle-and-bustle-ready nation this week. On Tuesday night, bank staff brought the tradition to Baltimore for the first time in its 31 year history with an announcement at the HarborPlace Gallery, followed by a performance of the “12 Days of Christmas” that made everyone forget the price tags.

Overlooking the shops from the entrance to the second floor food court, PNC Greater Maryland Wealth Management Managing Director Anna Vitelli announced that buying one of each of the items mentioned in the “12 Days of Christmas” would cost $27,673.21 ($39,762.61 online).

That’s about $280 more than last year. But as far as percentage increases go, the roughly one percent increase is the lowest in a dozen years.

“This happens to be the smallest increase since 2002,” Vitelli said.

PNC also tallies the “True Love” edition of the index, which is the cost of buying all 364 items together (All 12 drummers, All 10 Lords, etc.). That’s $116,273.06, which is a 1.4 percent increase

It was actually a fairly stable year in Christmas Carol gifts. Eight out of the 12 items mentioned in the song held stable at last year’s price. Vitelli said PNC tabulators were especially surprised to find the Five Golden Rings holding steady, given that the price in gold commodities has been falling.

Other than the aforementioned Partridge, the only other major increase came in the Six Geese-a-Laying. One of them must have laid a golden egg, because the geese went up a whopping 71.4 percent, from $210 to $360. (In reality, it was higher demand, and rising food and shelter costs).

Created in 1984, the Christmas Price Index has unexpectedly become a handy way to track economic progress. Over the 31 years PNC has tabulated the cost of the items, the price has increased at an average rate of about 2.8 percent per year. That just so happens to be exactly the same number that inflation has risen over the same period, according to Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer for PNC Wealth Management.

PNC is also trying to stop a rapid fall in the stock of “12 Days of Christmas.” Vitelli noted that the carol is now found near the bottom of the charts. To help bring it to the viral generation, they launched a Christmas Price Index website complete with Turtle Dove DJs and 6 Geese-a-Laying…Down the Law.

At Tuesday’s unveil, The Peabody Institute Octet’s version — along with dancers Estelle Dennis/Peabody Dance Training Program for Boys — showed the song was holding up as strong as ever. Downtown Partnership has video. 

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