The cost of Christmas is up 5.1%.
Pittsburgh-based PNC Advisors annually calculates the Christmas Price index based on the 12 gifts in the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The total cost of Christmas in 1999, starting with a partridge in a pear tree ($113) and ending with 12 drummers drumming ($1,597), is $14,940.17, up from $14,214.90 in 1998 and $13,343.86 in 1997.
Economists at PNC Advisors attributed increased gift costs to a tight labor market and tough contract negotiations, with, for example, the 10 Lords a Leaping dance troupe. In fact, because Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan has expressed so much concern over the impact of rising labor costs, PNC economists waited until after Nov. 16 to announce this year's estimated cost of Christmas "so as not to push the Federal Reserve beyond the recently announced 25 basis point increase in interest rates."
Bad weather conditions on the East Coast also affected the price of agricultural goods, driving the cost of pear trees up almost 9% to $98 per tree.
But modern givers should be grateful. The "true love" in the carol gives a total of 364 presents, because on each successive day, the prior gift is repeated. The total cost of the literal interpretation would be $59,719.33. Fortunately, most urbanites don't have room for 12 pear trees and partridges, 22 turtle doves, 42 geese-a-laying or 42 swans-a-swimming.
PNC investment strategist Rebekah McCahan said her company anticipates that a rise in global procurement of goods and services through e-commerce may make next year's Christmas Price index flat or even declining.