PITTSBURGH – The slow recovery of the U.S. economy is continuing to keep the cost of Christmas — or at least the gifts listed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" — from spiraling out of control.
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The price of two turtle doves jumped from $290 to $375 this year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol stayed the same price or became cheaper, including a partridge in a pear tree, according to the 33rd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index released Thursday.
As a result, the overall cost of the gifts listed in the song increased 0.7 percent to $34,363, up $233 from last year's total of $34,131.
PNC Financial Services Group releases the price index each year as a whimsical way of tracking inflation.
Besides the turtle doves, only the cost of 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming — both up 2.8 percent — increased.
Thomas Melcher, chief Investment officers for PNC Asset Management Group, said the increasing wages of drummers and pipers could signal a march toward higher wages for a broader range of workers in 2017. He said he wouldn't be surprised to see increases coming for the eight maids-a-milking, nine ladies dancing and 10 lords-a-leaping.
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"There are some underlying inflationary pressures that seem to be building," Melcher said.
The price of five gold rings, as tracked by PNC, hasn't gone up in three years, even though the price of gold as a commodity has.
"At a certain point, the end product should begin to reflect the price appreciation of the commodity," Melcher said.
PNC calculates the prices from sources including retailers, bird hatcheries and two Philadelphia dance groups, the Pennsylvania Ballet and Philadanco.
The cost of buying the same gifts online is $44,603 this year, up 2.2 percent from $43,627 last year. But Melcher cautioned that's largely because it costs more to transport animals and performers — 10 lords-a-leaping cost $5,509 in-person, but $13,373 online because of transportation costs — than the cost of the items themselves.
"In most instances, it's cheaper to shop online," Melcher said. "I've never personally shipped a swan, but I imagine it's not the cheapest endeavor in the world."
A buyer who purchased all the gifts each time they are mentioned in the song would spend $156,507, up $1,100 from last year.
The full set of prices for purchasing the gifts from a bricks-and-mortar business, not online, is:
— Partridge, $20; last year: $25
— Pear tree, $190; last year: same
— Two turtle doves, $375; last year: $290
— 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), $5,509; last year: same
— 11 pipers piping (per performance), $2,708; last year: $2,635
— 12 drummers drumming (per performance), $2,934; last year: $2,855