The Christmas Carol/The Christmas Dinner: Holiday cheer takes an inflationary hit.

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The cost of holiday feasting is the real Christmas Price Index.

Every year, the economists at PNC bank tally the cost of the items in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.
The French hens, the swans, the leaping lords, the pipers and the drummers; they add it all up at current prices for a tongue-in-cheek economic index.

They pay union scale for the musicians and minimum wage for the maids-a-milking. Pet shops, aviaries, and zoos are polled to determine the going rate for swimming swans and calling birds, and Gordon Jewelers in the mall sets the golden ring price.

This year, the 78 gifts, all in, add up to $23,439.38, representing a 9.2% increase over 2009.
A little less if you shop online.

Costs are also up to eat, drink, and be merry.
Wholesale turkey prices rose 33% over last year, and butter has taken a 25% jump.
Smoked ham, sweet potatoes, pecan halves, eggs, and whipping cream have seen double-digit increases. General Mills, Sara Lee, Starbucks, J.M. Smucker and Kraft Foods have all raised year-end prices.

There are some bright spots in the supermarket. You can still find plenty of bargains in the produce aisle where staples like lettuce, tomatoes, and new potatoes have seen decreases. Even some seasonal favorites like cranberry sauce, packaged stuffing mixes, and oranges have lower prices. Ice cream remains blessedly unchanged. But overall, food inflation is expected to accelerate through 2010 and into 2011.

Whether that partridge is in a pear tree or stuffed with wild rice and chestnuts, you can expect to pay through the nose for this year’s holiday cheer.

A century of Christmas food prices: the Daily Record of Morris County, New Jersey publishes a survey of seasonally advertised grocery prices going back to 1900.

James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management, tells the story of its Christmas Price Index.

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2 Responses to The Christmas Carol/The Christmas Dinner: Holiday cheer takes an inflationary hit.

  1. So….”Maids-a-Milking” at minimum wage, hmmm……..

  2. Monet says:

    I was just at the grocery store today, and I was surprised to see how much more whipping cream and butter cost! I’m glad to know that I’m not imagining this. Thanks for sharing. Your site always introduces me to so many interesting ideas/statistics!

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