A costlier Christmas carol

Seven swans, six geese and five golden rings have joined the list of Christmas gifts that cost more than they did a year ago.

And if you buy all 364 items repeated throughout The Twelve Days of Christmas carol, you'll pay 6.1 per cent more this year, according to the so-called Christmas Price Index that PNC Wealth Management updates annually. That comes to $US107,300 ($A103,000).

"The rise is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we've had," says Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for US-based PNC. He notes the US government's Consumer Price Index has risen just two per cent in the 12 months before September.

Thrifty shoppers may find some reasons for cheer. Six items mentioned in the song haven't gone up in price: maids-a-milkin', ladies dancin', lords-a-leapin', colly birds, turtle doves and the partridge. The eight maids-a-milkin' still cost just $US58, because the minimum wage hasn't risen.

Twelve drummers drumming ($US2775.50) and 11 pipers piping ($US2562) might also be considered relative bargains compared to seven swans, which will set you back $US7000. Nine ladies dancing will cost you $US6294.

Dunigan says a drought in the US in 2011 caused the price of some birds to soar, partly because of corn and other feed costs.

"The geese were up 29.6 per cent, and swans were up 11 per cent," Dunigan says, adding that none of the gifts in the song went down in price this year.

The price of a pear tree is $US189.99, an 11.8 per cent jump from last year's $US169.99. Five gold(en) rings jumped 16.3 per cent this year, to $US750, and three French hens are now $US165, instead of $US150.

The $US15 partridge is the cheapest item, and swans the most expensive, at $US1000 each.


Last-minute shoppers who turn to the internet will pay a bit more for the gifts. Buying one set of the core items in each verse would cost $US24,431 in traditional stores this year, but $US40,440 online.

Part of that difference is the extra expense of shipping live birds, Dunigan says, adding that internet costs rose 1.5 per cent compared to last year.

PNC Financial Services Group checks jewellery stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list.