As if you hadn't had enough unpleasant holiday news.. The cost of the gifts for the 12 days of Christmas according to the Christmas Price Index has gone up 8.1% this year to $21,080 (Gee, for that much you could buy a car and make Detroit happy)
Apparently, the reason for the price hike is the cost of swans..
Every year since 1984, American investment group PNC Wealth Management has compiled a Christmas Price Index (CPI - geddit?) by pricing all the items in the song from the partridge right up to 12 drummers drumming.MSNBC has come up with it's own estimate of cost
While mainly just a bit of harmless fun, PNC also believes the index does have something to say about the wider American economy.
This year, PNC estimates the index has leapt 8.1% to $21,080, its second highest ever increase. That compares with the US government's Consumer Price Index (CPI) which has risen 3.7% this year.
But the bulk of the dramatic rise in the Christmas version is due to the cost of the seven swans-a-swimming which have risen by 33.33% to $5,600. The scarcity of swans has always made them one of the most volatile elements of the index.
Cutting them out, the index is $15,480.10 - a rise of 1.1% from the $15,307.25 recorded in 2007, and a figure that seems to echo the economic slowdown in the country.
"Omitting the Seven Swans-a-Swimming may be a tempting way for a True Love to hold the line on costs, but one would be advised to proceed with caution," joked James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management. "Because our analysts can only measure the actual cost of this seasonal treasure, not its sentimental value, True Loves may want to budget a little more carefully this year in order to purchase all the items in the song."
The metal in the five gold rings, meanwhile, may have increased as commodity prices have soared, but retailers are heavily discounting items in order to get shoppers through the door. As a result a bargain-seeking True Love should be able to get them for $349.95 this season, down 11.4% on last year.
Changes in the labour market, meanwhile, have impacted on some of the other prices in the index. PNC reckons the eight maids a milking are the only unskilled labourers in the song and so qualify for the minimum wage, which increased for the second year running in 2008 to $6.55 an hour. As a result their services will set a True Love back an extra 12% this year.
The drummers-drumming, pipers-piping and lords-a-leaping have all been affected by the economic slowdown which has seen wage inflation kept in check by worries about job security. As a result their cost has increased by just 3%, which PNC says essentially keeps them in line with the rise in the cost of living. The price of the nine ladies dancing, however, was unchanged at $4759.19, according to PNC's sources.
I know we are cutting back on gifts this year in our household, and I know for sure that it doesn't mean that we don't love each other any less than in prior years.
There are of course some other low budget ways to make your true love content... but we'll have to let you figure that out.