Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — ’12 Days of Christmas’ gifts rise only 0.7 percent in price; in-store shoppers get the biggest bargains

TODD SMITH — ’12 Days of Christmas’ gifts rise only 0.7 percent in price; in-store shoppers get the biggest bargains

TODD SMITH

Reflecting a steep decline in energy costs, lower inflation and slow-but-steady economic growth, the 2015 PNC Christmas Price Index® (PNC CPI) experienced its lowest growth rate in six years at 0.6 percent in the whimsical holiday economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management.

According to the 32nd annual report – which measures the cost of the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” – the price tag for the PNC CPI is $34,130.99 in 2015, a mere $198 more than last year’s cost and in-line with the government’s Consumer Price Index, which has increased 0.2 percent over the past 12 months.

“While the economy continues to chug along on a sustainable path, low commodity prices are keeping consumer costs down,” Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer, PNC Asset Management Group, said in a news release. “With only a few items in our index increasing in cost this year, True Loves should be thrilled that they can have their goose and better afford the gas to roast it too.”

It’s a good year for gifts this holiday season – and if you hankered to buy that special someone the gifts included in the holiday classic “The 12 Days of Christmas,” it only cost 0.7 percent more than last year, according to the 33rd annual economic analysis by The PNC Financial Services Group.

The small price rise in the PNC Christmas Price Index® reflects slow economic growth, and wage inflation caused an increase in some holiday entertainment options.

PNC’s whimsical economic analysis calculated the price for the Christmas Price Index at $34,363.49, just $232.50 or 0.7 percent more than last year’s cost and less than the government’s Consumer Price Index, which has increased 1.6 percent over the past 12 months.

Thomas P. Melcher, chief investment officer for PNC Asset Management Group, noted that consumers should consider shopping early to take advantage of this year’s bargains before a potential Federal Reserve rate increase, which will likely raise consumer borrowing costs.

“The economy continues to expand, and it is likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this month or early next year,” Melcher said. “Consumers appear to be cautiously optimistic spenders this year,

And we’re anticipating a slight improvement in the holiday retail season.”

Brick-and-Mortar Bargains

The PNC CPI also calculates the cost of shopping for the 12 gifts online. As internet prices tend to be higher, convenience comes at a cost this year. Those who prefer shopping online will have to spend $44,602

for the gifts, $10,239 more than buying them at a store.

Gift Cost Changes

The cost of each item was revealed this morning on PNC’s interactive website (pnc.co/ChristmasPriceIndex), which teaches consumers about the index and features a historical comparison of index data. Of the 12 items measured by the index, eight remained the same price as last

year. Highlights include:

» Pipers Piping – wage inflation will make some entertainment options more costly this year, including pipers piping. The cost for 11 pipers piping increased for the first time since 2013, rising 2.8 percent from $2,635 to $2,708.

» Drummers Drumming – the price for 12 drummers drumming also rose 2.8 percent to $2,934 due to increased pay.

» Ladies Dancing & Lords Leaping – this is a great entertainment bargain, as nine ladies dancing ($7,552) and10 Lords-a-leaping ($5,508) held steady this year.

» Turtle Doves – the cost of two turtle doves soared 29 percent to $375 this year due to a shortage of birds. A turtle dove only lays two to three clutches a year, with only two eggs per clutch, making these lovebirds a hard gift to find.

» Partridge in a Pear Tree – the real bargain this year is the partridge, which fell 20 percent in price to $20 due to an increase in supply. Combined with the pear tree, the price for this gift fell 2.3 percent this year to $210.

» Gold Rings – despite a rise in gold commodity prices this year, the cost of five gold rings stayed surprisingly the same at $750. The rings appear less volatile as the underlying commodity, having held steady for four consecutive years.

The PNC index’s sources include retailers, hatcheries, the Philadelphia-based PHILADANCO and the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. To mirror the government’s core CPI, which excludes energy and food prices,

PNC removes the swans – typically the most volatile item in the index – from its total index. With the Swans excluded, the core PNC CPI rose 1.1 percent, similar to the 2.1 percent increase in the government’s core CPI, which is also rising faster than the overall index.

The cost of each item was revealed on an interactive website (www.pncchristmaspriceindex.com) that teaches consumers about the index through a real-life gingerbread branch experience.

Nine of the 12 items in the index maintained their cost this year. The cost of the Partridge in a Pear Tree rose 3.5 percent, primarily due to the Partridge’s growing popularity as a gourmet food and in backyard farming. Turtle Doves are up 11.5 percent due to increased grain prices, and Lords-a-Leaping prices rose 3 percent due to an increase in salaries.

A PNC predecessor bank in Philadelphia began estimating the cost of the 12 Christmas gifts in 1984 as a holiday client letter. This year’s price is 82 percent higher than the inaugural report 33 years ago.

As part of its annual tradition, PNC also tabulates the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items bestowed by a “true love” who repeats all the song’s verses. Purchasing all 364 gifts will require $156,507, up more than $1,000 from last year and more than $56,000 from 1984.

Golden Mic | Dolly Parton, Country Stars Raise Nearly $9 Million for Wildfire Victims

Dolly Parton’s star studded “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” telethon raised nearly $9 million so far, and donations are still being counted.

The telethon aired last week on a host of networks, including GAC, AXS-TV and RFD-TV, and featured more than 20 live and pre-taped performances from stars ranging from Cyndi Lauper and Don McLean to Parton, Kenny Rogers, Chris Young, Chris Stapleton and Reba McEntire. Celebrities including Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Stapleton, Young, Paul Simon and Dierks Bentley made significant donations to the My People Fund as did the Academy of Country Music, ACM Lifting Lives and the Country Music Association.

Through Parton’s My People Fund, money raised will go to benefit victims of the wildfires that ravaged parts of Parton’s native Sevier County at the end of November. The My People Fund, started by Parton, The Dollywood Foundation and Sevier County businesses, ensures $1,000 a month for six months to each family who lost their primary residence in the blaze, which killed 14 people and scorched 17,000 acres in the tourist community. More than 1,300 families are known to have lost their homes.

Donations to the My People Fund are tax-deductible and can be made at dollywoodfoundation.org, by texting DOLLY to 501501 for a one-time $10 donation or DOLLY25 to 501501 for a one-time $25 donation, or mailed to: My People Fund, c/o Dollywood Foundation, 111 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.

For this life saving gift, Dolly Parton and friends, who are bringing hope this holiday season to the fire-ravaged communities across East Tennessee, take the Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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