PITTSBURGH — The price of lords-a-leaping and ladies dancing has spiked this holiday season, but other items mentioned in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” still cost the same as they did last year.
Buying one set of the gifts mentioned in each verse costs $27,393 in stores, or 7.7 percent more than last year, according to the so-called Christmas Price Index that PNC Wealth Management updates annually. And if you buy all 364 items repeated throughout the carol, you'll pay $114,651 — 6.9 percent more than last year.
Last-minute shoppers who turn to the Internet will pay even more for all the gifts — about $173,000.
“We were surprised to see such a large increase from a year ago, given the overall benign inflation rate in the U.S.,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC.
The federal government's core Consumer Price Index rose only 1.7 percent this year.
In the three decades since the list was started in 1984, year-over-year increases have averaged 2.9 percent, which is exactly the same number as broader U.S. inflation. But it's a fickle list because the price of some items has barely budged, while others have soared.
Seven swans cost $7,000 this year, the same as in 1984, while the cost of a single partridge went from $12.57 to $15 during the same period. One pear tree to put that partridge in? Thirty years ago it cost $19.95, but will now set you back $184.
The cost of nine ladies dancing is now $7,553, or 20 percent more than last year's $6,294, while 10 lords-a-leaping jumped 10 percent, to $5,243.
Seven items on the list cost the same as they did last year, including gold rings and turtle doves, while pipers piping, drummers drumming, and the pear tree showed only modest changes up or down.
The swans are the most expensive item at $1,000 each. The eight maids-a-milking still cost a total of just $58 because the federal minimum wage hasn't risen. At $7.25 each, they're the least expensive gifts in the song.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. checks jewelry stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list. Among its sources this year were the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Ballet Company.