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Tracking Inflation Using ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’

December 2, 2022 Jessica Tagliafierro

Inflations has caused the cost of a partridge in a pear tree to increase to $280.18 in 2022In 2021, Camoin Associates highlighted PNC’s Christmas Price Index as a unique way to track US inflation. Given the ongoing inflation increases throughout 2022, we decided to revisit this index to see if it reflects current trends.

PNC’s Christmas Price Index, which calculates the prices of the 12 gifts from the classic holiday song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” has tracked the prices of this same set of goods for 39 years.

What is the data telling us?

The total Christmas Price Index for 2022 is $45,523.21 – a 10.5% increase compared to 2021 highlighting the inflation that has been present in the economy. This is much higher than last year’s increase of 5.7%, from 2019 to 2021 (2020 was excluded due to COVID-19 impacts). When swans, the most volatile gift from the index, are excluded, the 2022 increase is even higher at 15.4%.

Since its inception, the average annual change in the index has been 2.5%. 2022’s increase is the third largest in the index’s history, behind only 2003 (18.4%) and 2008 (11%).PNC Christmas Price Index line chart shows how the cost of the 12 items in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" has changed since 1984. A sharp increase is seen between 2021 and 2022 due to high inflation.Like 2021, the largest contributor to the index in 2022 (and historically) is seven swans-a-swimming. On a percentage basis, five gold rings experienced the biggest price increase from 2021 to 2022. The cost of individual components of the 2022 index are:

  • A partridge in a pear tree: $280.18 (+25.8%)
  • Two turtle doves: $600.00 (+33.3%)
  • Three French hens: $318.75 (+25%)
  • Four calling birds: $599.96 (0%)
  • Five gold rings: $1,245.00 (+39.1%)
  • Six geese-a-laying: $720.00 (+9.1%)
  • Seven swans-a-swimming: $13,124.93 (0%)
  • Eight maids-a-milking: $58.00 (0%)
  • Nine ladies dancing: $8,308.12 (+10%)
  • Ten lords-a-leaping: $13,980.00 (+24.2%)
  • Eleven pipers piping: $3,021.40 (+2.6%)
  • Twelve drummers drumming: $3,266.93 (+2.6%)

Why is this important?

According to PNC, the Christmas Price Index has tended to change in line with the US Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index over the 39 years of the index’s existence. This year, key drivers of inflation for the index include higher fertilizer prices (impacting the price of gifts like a pear tree), rapidly rising services costs (driven by increased wages and labor costs), and increased demand for store-of-value assets (like gold rings). Notably, services in the index are up 14.5% while goods increased by just 4.2%. As we head into the holiday season, PNC’s Christmas Price Index is a unique way to explore inflation and price trends.

Happy holidays from Camoin Associates!

Camoin Associates is a national leader in using research and data analysis to help communities and organizations understand where they are now and develop actionable goals designed to get them where they want to be. Learn more about our services.