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'12 Days' a spendin' higher
Eight maids and a partridge in a pear tree a bargain, but the nine ladies will cost a bundle in 2004
November 29, 2004: 9:13 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - One partridge, seven swans and eight maids may be a bargain this year, but the prices of three French hens and six geese-a-laying have soared, according to an annual estimated cost of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song shopping list released Monday.

PNC Advisors has done an estimated tongue-in-cheek Christmas Price Index each year since 1984. This year's index put the cost of all 364 items mentioned in the song, along with all the repetitions, at $66,334, up 1.6 percent from last year.

The modest increase pales in comparison to last year's 19 percent increase, which may be due to lower consumer confidence this season, according to Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Advisors, which published the report.

Buying each item just once would cost $17,297, up 2.4 percent.

The three French hen posted the biggest percentage increase -- up 200 percent to $45, while the price of the six geese rose 40 percent to $210. The price of two turtle doves actually fell 31 percent to $40, while the cost of a partridge remained unchanged from last year at $15.

According to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the escalating price for French hens and geese may be due to fewer hatchlings during this breeding cycle creating an imbalance in the supply-demand chain.

Turtledoves, on the other hand, may have had a more fruitful breeding cycle creating an oversupply of birds and falling prices.

Additionally, hiring the nine dancing ladies this year will pinch the wallet a little more than last year. The total cost for the dancing ladies rose 4 percent to $4,400 this year, up from $4,230.89 in 2003.

"The Christmas Price Index reflects the changing economic mix in the U.S. away from manufacturing to a more service based economy," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Advisors, which published the report.

"The abundance of cheaper labor in countries such as India and China has resulted in pressure on U.S. manufacturers to outsource unskilled labor," Kleintop said. "As a result, the cost of skilled dancers has steadily increased while the unskilled milk maids haven't managed an increase in pay for their services in many years."

Other labor-intensive gifts saw increases as well. The cost of 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming both rose 3.6 percent; the price of 10 lords-a-leaping rose 3 percent.

And don't think you'll save more by shopping for the same goods on the Internet. The report warns that most items are more expensive to buy online primarily due to the cost of shipping, which continues to go up because of rising fuel costs.  Top of page




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