Friday, December 24, 2010

Commodities, Performers and Birds Drive Christmas Price Index

The national economy may have been sluggish in 2010 but the Christmas Price Index, produced every year by PNC, surged 9.2%. The index looks at the price of the items mentioned in the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’

The price tag for the gifts comes in this year at $23,439. That is $1,974 more than last year. PNC Wealth Management managing executive Jim Dunigan says it was the second highest jump ever. Usually the rate of increase is very close to the National Consumer Price Index, which grew just 1.1 percent over the year. Dunigan says there is precedence for the jump. He says over the 27-year history of the index you seen times when the nation is just coming out of a recession and the Christmas Price Index jumps back faster than the Consumer Price Index. In 2003 the index rose more than 15 percent. “So I think coming out of a recession you start to see different baskets of goods, certainly the Christmas Price Index is a unique basket, that may in fact have larger increases,” Says Dunigan.

The Christmas Price Index inched up a modest 1.8% in 2009.

“This year’s jump in the PNC CPI can be attributed to rising gold commodity prices, represented by the Five Gold Rings which went up by 30 percent, in addition to higher costs for wages and benefits impacting some entertainers,” says Dunigan. Among the 12 gifts in the PNC CPI, only four items (Pear Tree, Four Calling Birds, Six Geese a–Laying and the Eight Maids-a-Milking) were the same price from last year.
The 11 Pipers Piping and 12 Drummers Drumming saw modest increases of 3.1%. The biggest dollar increase this year was for the Nine Ladies Dancing, up $820, (up 15%)

The “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items as they are repeated, is also calculated annually. If your True Love went that route, he or she would be facing a $96,824 bill. That is a 10.8% increase compared to last year.

PNC also looks at the price of gathering the gifts on-line. The Internet cost this year went up 9.2% and was $11,000 more than this year’s traditional index. “In general, Internet prices are higher than their non-Internet counterparts because of shipping costs for birds and the convenience factor of shopping online,” says Dunigan.

All of the data and a graphic presentation can be found online. Lesson plans for teachers and projects to do at home can also be found on the site.

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