The Checkout

The Cost of Christmas Carols

Ylan Mui

You think your budget is tight this Christmas. Just think how the poor folks suffered in 1780.

That is the year the lyrics to the popular "Twelve Days of Christmas" were written, at least according to Wikipedia. Among the many presents that my poor true love had to dig up were five golden rings, seven lords a-leaping and 12 drummers drumming -- and this was way before Life Took Visa!

In today's dollars, the full set of items would cost you $21,080.10, according to an in-depth analysis by PNC Bank this week. That's an 8 percent increase over last year, driven by a 33 percent jump in the price of seven swans a-swimming to $5,600 because of their increasing scarcity.

However, there is a silver -- or rather, gold -- lining. As luxury retail prices fall in light of weak consumer demand, the cost of five golden rings has dropped from $395 to $349.95, according to the PNC analysis.

How important are maids a-milking and turtledoves to the spirit of the season? The bank's economists also share a little love advice for free: "True Loves may want to budget a little more carefully this year in order to purchase all the items in this song."

By Ylan Mui |  December 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Consumer News , Economy Watch , Marketing , Ylan Mui
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