Twenty-eight years ago, the chief economist at PNC decided to figure out how much it would cost to buy each of the gifts in “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Little did he know he was starting an economic tradition that continues to this day. The PNC Christmas Price Index® is similar to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in prices of goods and services like housing, food, clothing, transportation and other items that reflect the spending habits of the average American.


The goods and services in PNC Christmas Price Index® are far more whimsical than the standard CPI. But most years, the prices of the items noted changes closely to mirror those in the 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, you can still learn a lot by checking out how their prices have gone up and down over the years. Each year PNC tracks how gift prices change then add up the prices of all 78 gifts in the song to get the “Total Cost of Christmas”.


According to the PNC Christmas Price Index® the “True Cost of Christmas” is $101,119.84 for all 364 gifts. This holiday season is the most expensive year ever with a 4.4 percent increase compared to last year. For example, the most surprising result in this year’s CPI was the cost of Five Gold Rings, which, despite record highs during the year in gold commodity prices, dropped a scant 0.8 percent. However, the retail price of the gold rings held steady throughout the year due to the weak demand and the desire of retailers to move them out of their display cases. Though a retail luxury gift, the gold rings in the PNC CPI traditionally reflect the overall trends in commodity prices.


Each year, educators across the country use CPI to teach economic trends to middle and high school students. The site contains lesson plans from The Stock Market Game™ (SMG), a program of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation for Investor Education, that consist of activities designed to help students identify economic trends and to project their impact on this year’s Index. This year’s site includes interactive activities, annual results and PNC CPI trends in a flash presentation, MP3 download