12 Days of Christmas – Annual Inflation Update

Here’s something fitting for the holiday season…

Each year around this time, PNC Bank releases its annual Wealth Management Christmas Price Index. It’s a whimsical way for the bank to track inflation, as they use the items in the 12 Days of Christmas to compare year over year price changes.

This year it seems that most items’ prices remained flat, in line with government CPI calculations of very tepid inflation at 0.2% year over year (you'll remember this is also the reason why Social Security recipients are not receiving a Cost of Living Adjustment for 2016).

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.

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 three items to increase in price since last year were: a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves and 10 lords a-leaping.

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