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PNC Christmas Price Index®

2015 GIFT PRICES

The PNC Christmas Price Index® shows the current cost of one set of each of the gifts given in the song
"The Twelve Days of Christmas."

ONE Partridge IN A PEAR TREE $214.99 (+3.5%)

The Partridge was in high demand this year, leading to a higher price. The Pear Tree’s price also went up, due to a modest cost-of-living increase.

TWO TURTLE DOVES $290.00 (+11.5%)

Seems people couldn’t get enough Turtle Doves this year; prices increased as supply couldn’t keep up with demand.

THREE FRENCH HENS $181.50 (0.0%)

It’s been a quiet year for the French Hens. They didn’t see any change in price due to steady supply and demand compared to 2014.

FOUR CALLING BIRDS $599.96 (0.0%)

For the Calling Birds, it was business as usual in 2015. Their price was unchanged, selling right at market value. No discount needed.

FIVE GOLD RINGS $750.00 (0.0%)

The price of gold dropped this year, but Gold Rings stayed the same, thanks to steady demand for classic gold wedding bands.

SIX GEESE-A-LAYING $360.00 (0.0%)

After a wild jump in price in 2014, the Geese-a-Laying cooled off this year, with prices staying unchanged at $360.

SEVEN SWANS-A-SWIMMING $13,125.00 (0.0%)

Swans aren’t cheap, but hey, at least they aren’t getting more expensive. Despite inflation, the Swans didn’t increase in price from last year.

EIGHT MAIDS-A-MILKING $58.00 (0.0%)

This year the Maids remained steady at $58. No surprise, since their price is based on federal minimum wage, which hasn’t changed since 2009.

NINE LADIES DANCING $7,552.84 (0.0%)

The price of the PHILADANCO! dancers didn’t change this year. They’ve updated their moves, but not their price, due to waning demand.

TEN LORDS-A-LEAPING $5,508.70 (+3.0%)

The Lords-a-Leaping who call the Pennsylvania Ballet home have good reason to leap. Their price increased by 3% due to rising salaries.

ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING $2,635.20 (0.0%)

It’s been a quiet year for the Pipers. Weakening demand meant no change in price for their music, which held steady at $2,635.20.

TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING $2,854.80 (0.0%)

The Drummers marched to the same beat as last year. Uncertainty about future demand for their skills kept their price unchanged at $2,854.80.

TOTAL CHRISTMAS PRICE INDEX $34,130.99 (+0.6%)
True COST OF CHRISTMAS IN SONG $155,407.18 +0.6% (Cumulative cost of all the gifts when you count each repetition in the song — 364 gifts)
"Core" Index (excluding swans) $21,005.99 +1.0%
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  • 2015 $34,130.99 (+0.6%)
  • 2014* $33,933.22 (+0.8%)
  • 2013 $33,653.17 (+6.2%)
  • 2012 $31,691.18 (+6.0%)
  • 2011 $29,910.68 (+5.1%)
  • 2010 $28,447.38 (+8.9%)
  • 2009 $26,116.69 (+0.3%)
  • 2008 $26,036.21 (+12.1%)
  • 2007 $23,222.98 (+2.6%)
  • 2006 $22,636.32 (+2.6%)
  • 2005 $22,064.60 (+8.2%)
  • 2004 $20,400.55 (+2.0%)
  • 2003 $20,008.36 (+21.6%)
  • 2002 $16,456.95 (-12.8%)
  • 2001 $18,871.88 (+3.0%)
  • 2000 $18,324.65 (+1.5%)
  • 1999 $18,054.60 (+4.2%)
  • 1998 $17,329.33 (+5.3%)
  • 1997 $16,458.29 (+0.9%)
  • 1996 $16,310.29 (+4.6%)
  • 1995 $15,596.08 (-29.5%)
  • 1994 $22,119.06 (+0.8%)
  • 1993 $21,935.56 (+0.8%)
  • 1992 $21,756.82 (+0.6%)
  • 1991 $21,630.65 (+1.0%)
  • 1990 $21,406.58 (+3.0%)
  • 1989 $20,773.64 (+4.1%)
  • 1988 $19,960.49 (-0.4%)
  • 1987 $20,046.61 (+5.0%)
  • 1986 $19,095.11 (+0.6%)
  • 1985 $18,988.44 (+0.8%)
  • 1984 $18,845.97 (+1.4%)

*Revised: 2014 traditional price adjusted to better reflect open-market pricing.

The PNC Christmas Price Index® shows the current cost for one set of each of the gifts given in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

It began 32 years ago when the chief economist at PNC Bank decided to figure out how much it would cost to buy each of the gifts. Little did he know, he was starting a holiday tradition that continues to this day.

The PNC Christmas Price Index is similar to the U.S. Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation and more that reflect the spending habits of the average American.

The goods and services in the PNC Christmas Price Index are far more whimsical, of course. And most years, the price changes closely mirror those in the U.S. Consumer Price Index. It’s a fun way to measure consumer spending and trends in the economy. So, even if Pipers Piping or Geese-a-Laying didn’t make your gift list this year, you can still learn a lot by checking out how their prices have increased and decreased over the years.

It all started 32 years ago as a way to engage clients of PNC’s predecessor, Provident National Bank in Philadelphia, during the traditionally light holiday weeks. What hatched as the creative brainchild of the bank’s then-chief economist has since grown into one of PNC’s most popular and anticipated economic reports.

TRENDS: HOW THE INDEX HAS CHANGED SINCE 1984

Over the years, trends have emerged, and the PNC Christmas Price Index® (PNC CPI) has often increased or decreased at a rate consistent with the U.S. Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation produced by the U.S. Department of Labor. Three factors have largely driven changes in the index over the past 32 years:

  • The Internet makes it easier to find the gifts from the song online, but these goods and services tend to be expensive, mainly due to added shipping and handling costs.
  • The price of services overall has increased, while the price of goods has slowed.
  • Fuel costs have a major effect on the cost of shipping. And, as we know, fuel prices have been especially volatile over the last few years.

Meet the people who keep this economic tradition alive year after year.

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JAMES P. DUNIGAN Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer, PNC Wealth Management

In his role as chief investment officer for PNC Wealth Management®, James Dunigan is responsible for the investment strategy, equity research, equity management, investment services and investment advisor research groups for the open architecture platform of PNC Wealth Management. Dunigan is also responsible for the development and execution of investment policies, strategies and tactics. “The Christmas Price Index reflects the lighter side of the trends we follow and is indicative of the high volume of customized research we do for our clients,” says Dunigan.

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Rebekah McCahan Vice President, Investment Strategist, PNC Wealth Management

Rebekah McCahan serves as a member of the Investment Strategy team for PNC Wealth Management and Institutional Investments. She is responsible for developing asset allocation models, directing asset allocation changes, analyzing new investment instruments for consideration in client accounts, and helping to create quarterly and monthly investment outlooks and reviews. She is also responsible for gathering prices for the annual PNC Christmas Price Index®.

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E. William Stone Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Strategist, PNC Wealth Management

Bill Stone is executive vice president and chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. He is responsible for leading PNC’s Investment Strategy team of analysts in monitoring many factors that influence the direction of domestic and international financial markets. He is responsible for defining the asset allocations and portfolio strategies throughout the organization to advise individual and institutional investors.

What’s the difference between the Total Cost of Christmas and the True Cost of Christmas? Who figures out the prices for the PNC Christmas Price Index? The answers to all these questions and more can be found here.

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  • 1 WHAT IS THE PNC CHRISTMAS PRICE INDEX®? The PNC Christmas Price Index (PNC CPI) shows the current cost for one set of each of the gifts given in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
  • 2 What is the True Cost of Christmas? The True Cost of Christmas is the cumulative cost of all the gifts when you count each repetition in the song — so it reflects the cost of 364 gifts.
  • 3 Why did PNC start tabulating the Christmas Price Index®? It all started 32 years ago as a way to engage clients of PNC’s predecessor, Provident National Bank in Philadelphia, during the traditionally light holiday weeks. What hatched as the creative brainchild of the bank’s then-chief economist has since grown into one of PNC’s most popular and anticipated economic reports.
  • 4 Who is the holiday shopper at PNC? Since 1986, Rebekah McCahan of PNC Wealth Management® has handled our shopping duties, putting a price tag on French hens, maids-a-milking, gold rings and all the other items in the PNC CPI. She has evaluated some distinctive economic trends along the way.
  • 5 Where does McCahan do her shopping? The partridge and dove prices came from a national bird supplier. Hatcheries provided the cost of the hens and swans. The price of the geese came from a waterfowl farm. A national pet chain provided the price of the calling birds, or canaries. The pear tree price came from Cinnaminson Nurseries in New Jersey. A national jewelry chain provided the cost of five 14-carat gold rings, and PHILADANCO, a modern dance company in Philadelphia, offered the price of ladies dancing. Maids-a-milking are the only unskilled laborers in the PNC CPI and, as such, they reflect the federal minimum wage.Year after year, the sources for the prices remain the same for the most part for consistency, but they have changed on occasion due to changes in the market or business landscape.
  • 6 What has changed since 1984? Many things. First, the Internet. Today, it’s easier for us to find the goods and services listed in the song online. This convenience comes at a price, however: goods and services from the survey that are purchased online tend to be more expensive than those purchased in a more traditional transaction, mainly due to added shipping and handling costs of the specialty items. In 2015, we adjusted the current prices of the turtle doves and swans to better reflect open market pricing, and revised the historical data to correlate.Second, over the last 32 years, the price of services in general has increased, while the price of goods has slowed. In the 1984 PNC CPI, goods were by far the more expensive component of the Index — today it’s services. Since 1984, the PNC CPI has increased 84%.
    Also related to services, in 2007, federal laws increased the minimum wage and gave the maids-a-milking their first raise since 1997. The wage increased again in both 2008 and 2009, and is now holding steady at $7.25 per hour.
    Third, fuel costs. As fuel prices go up and down, they have a major effect on the cost of shipping.
  • 7 Will shoppers spend more than ever before…again? Looks like it, but that’s because inflation usually makes the PNC CPI a little more expensive each year. The underlying inflation in this year’s core PNC CPI (where the volatile cost of swans is excluded) is up 1.0%. In 2003, we had the largest jump in our history, 21.6%*. Although this year’s increase of 0.6% is not dramatic, it is the most expensive year ever at $34,130.99—higher than last year by $198. The True Cost of Christmas (the cumulative cost of all the gifts when you count each repetition in the song) measured even wider fluctuations over the years.
  • 8 In which year could a shopper afford to be a scrooge? The cheapest PNC Christmas Price Index® in dollars occurred in 1995, when the cost of Christmas was just over $15,600*.

For more information, see the 2015 Press Release.

*Reflects the revised data.

*Till with Bell by Benboncan from Freesound.org

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Dear Educators and Students

The PNC Christmas Price Index® is a simple, yet entertaining way to introduce basic economics to classrooms around the country. By pricing out each gift from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” year after year, we are able to provide a snapshot of our current economy, lessons on inflation and other economic trends.

This year, we wanted to give the Index a new home. So we created the Gingerbread Branch: the world’s first real-life bank made out of gingerbread, where the twelve gifts will be brought to life like never before. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, come visit the branch at Penn’s Landing, December 4–6, or take a virtual tour with your students at PNCGingerbreadBranch.com. Learning about the economy has never tasted so good!

The Stock Market Game is a program of the SIFMA Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds.

Check back in November for the 2016 SIFMA educational activities from The Stock Market Game.

PNC Gingerbread Branch

PNC Gingerbread Branch