$45,000 for birds...pipers...drummers...
The inspiration for this week showed up on the dining room table Monday evening, which, truth be told, was a little bit late. Oh, well.
While making my way through a stack of have-not-been-read-yet copies of USA TODAY, a headline in the December 2-4 edition of “The Nation’s News” caught my attention.
“12 Days of Christmas’ just got more pricey’ the headline declared.
The source for the article, written by Janet Loehrke, was PNC Financial Services. Thanks to that wonder of modern technology and the greatest tool ever invented for wasting time, also known as the internet, your intrepid scribe was able to track down the story behind the story in the form of a press release from the aforementioned PNC National Services.
If you have not found just the right Christmas gift for your true love, we’ll offer you a little bit of help. We just hope you’ve got big bucks to spend...
That’s because according to the press release, true love, at least if you are using a classic Christmas carol for your shopping list, “costs a lot more this year, as record-high inflation drives PNC’s 39th annual Christmas Price Index (PNC CPI) up 10.5 percent, the third highest year-over-year increase in the index’s history. The PNC CPI, a light-hearted take on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index, measures the average change in prices consumers should expect to pay for True Love’s gifts, outlined in the classic holiday carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’”
The chief investment officer for the PNC Asset Management Group said it’s going to cost a record $45,523.27 to buy the 12 gifts featured in the Christmas carol. Seems that turtle doves, French hens and geese and so on “are not well-insulated from what is being experienced across the broader economy.” If you want to give your True Love those birds, you’re going to fork over 20.1 percent more than you would have paid last year.
The press release highlighted some of the reasons behind the higher costs for all of those goodies in the Christmas carol, which include:
“Far out fertilizer prices: A key driver of the spike in the pear tree is the cost of fertilizer, which saw growth of 28 percent.
“Soaring service costs: Services inflation, driven by increased wages and labor costs, is higher than goods inflation in the PNC CPI, much like the BLS CPI. This year, services in the PNC CPI, represented primarily by the performers, are up 14.5 percent while goods increased just 4.2 percent.
“Gold rings gaining: Given inflation concerns, some investors dashed for store-of-value assets like gold again this year. Gold ring prices are up a whopping 39 percent from 2021, reflecting the surge in the precious metal’s price during the year.”
The press release reported that the price of Nine Ladies Dancing climbed to new heights ($8,308), as did the Ten Lords-a-Leaping, ($13,980), who jumped for joy as they returned to in-person performances. That jumped for joy thing was in the press release. Yours truly did not write that...nor did I come up with what’s about to follow regarding pipers and drummers...
Eleven Pipers Piping rose to a new tune ($3,021), and the 12 Drummers Drumming ($3,267) found a higher beat.
Although many states and localities across the country have raised minimum wages recently, the federal minimum wage has not increased since July 2009; thus, the Eight Maids-a-Milking haven’t seen a pay raise in more than a decade...which doesn’t explain the meager $58 you’ll pay for that gift. The Other Half wanted to know why the gifts involving women did not cost as much the gifts involving men...
The press release also noted: “Unfortunately, tech-savvy True Loves will not save by going the e-commerce route. Buying all 12 gifts virtually is ‘just’ 8.9 percent higher this year, still an eye-popping $49,663.73. Free shipping on livestock purchases is still not an option.”
The annual PNC CPI tradition included calculating the “True Cost of Christmas,” which, the press release explained, is the total cost of items bestowed by a True Love who repeats all the song’s verses. Purchasing all 364 gifts will cost $197,071.09, which means that spreading cheer in 2022 costs 9.8 percent more than it did a year ago.
Just in case you are wondering, my True Love won’t be getting any partridges, French hens or turtle doves for Christmas. We might go outside and listen for some calling birds in our backyard on Christmas Day...
One last thing...for all of you readers out there, a recommendation... Check out “And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” by Jon Meacham. Great book...and it even mentions Jonesboro and Richard Cobden.