Shopping for Your ‘True Love’? This Year’s List Is Cheaper and Shorter

PITTSBURGH – If you’re shopping for your true love this Christmas season, you’re in for a substantial discount, as PNC’s annual Christmas Price Index has fallen 58.5% from last year.

Calculated annually since 1984, the index catalogues the price of buying each gift in “The 12 Days of Christmas.” This year’s total, the bank reports, is $16,168.10. The “true cost” of the gifts – that is, buying each gift as it’s repeated in the song, for a total of 364 gifts –  is $105,561.80, down from $170,298.03 in 2019.

The drop in price is due to the lack of availability for live performers – nine ladies dancing, 10 lords-a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming – because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While some performing arts groups are finding ways to engage, such as through virtual presentations, it’s a silent night at most symphonies and the lights have dimmed on many dance companies, as reflected in this year’s significant drop in PNC’s CPI data,” said Amanda Agati, chief investment strategist for PNC Financial Services Group, in the report. 

“These artisans, like many consumers, have another round of fiscal stimulus at the top of their Christmas wish lists as regional economic restrictions go back into effect for the holidays,” she continued. “Advocates for the arts are not out of options for the performance-lover on their nice list, as many performing arts organizations are holding virtual performances and are grateful for donations this COVID-19 Christmas.”

The largest year-to-year price increases came in purchase of fowl for your true love, as the price of two turtle doves rose 50% to $450, three French hens rose 15.7% $210 to and six geese (a-laying, naturally) rose 35.7% to $570. The price of seven swans held steady at $13,125.

“The inability for consumers to eat at restaurants or even get takeout during the lockdowns drove an increased need for cooking at home, leading to an unexpected increase in demand (and subsequently prices) for our fowl friends. COVID-19 accelerated the trend toward backyard farming that has been slowly catching on over the last few years,” Agati says.

The only other gifts that posted a price increase over last year are gold rings (five of them) at $945.

More information on PNC’s Christmas Price Index can be found HERE.

In the order they’re sung in the traditional song, the prices of each gift and they’re change from last year are:

  • One partridge in a pear tree – $210.18, even. (Partridge – $20.18, pear tree – $190.)
  • Two turtle doves – $450, even.
  • Three French hens – $210, up 15.7%.
  • Four calling birds – $599.96, even.
  • Five gold rings – $945, up 14.5%.
  • Six geese-a-laying – $570, up 35.7%.
  • Seven swans-a-simming – $13,125, even.
  • Eight maids-a-milking – $58, even.
  • Nine ladies dancing – unavailable.
  • 10 lords-a-leaping – unavailable.
  • 11 pipers piping – unavailable.
  • 12 drummers drumming – unavailable.

For tech-savvy true loves, the increased demand for online shopping has factored into the price index as well, with buying all possible gifts online costing an additional $4,186.95 over in-person shopping, for a grand total of $20,355.09. An internet-only “true cost” is $133,355.96.

“Despite excluding the items that were unavailable due to COVID-19, we still saw a 2.9% increase in the PNC CPI,” Agati says. “The largest price increases this year have come in the food and exotic pet categories. While this may initially seem like inflation is already here and potentially problematic, the categories depicted are very narrow and specialized. This isn’t indicative of a broad-based inflation spike.”

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