The 2007 Christmas Price Index

You know your students are paying attention when one tells you that PNC’s Christmas Price Index (of which I had told them) for 2007 is out:

The significantly higher price of gold and increased compensation for minimum wage workers will make Christmas more expensive this year, according to the PNC Christmas Price Index. The tongue-in-cheek economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management is based on the cost of gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

According to the 23rd annual survey, the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is $19,507 in 2007, a 3.1 percent increase over last year. The rise in gift prices mirrored the U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index – a widely used measure of inflation calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index is up 3.5 percent so far this year.

I hope he’s getting an A (the student). I don’t think it needs to be that tongue-in-cheek, honestly. It makes a contribution, via its (odd) specificity, to our comprehension of the costs of living. I’d like to see one based specifically on a basket of Christmas goods, to pick up the actual cost-increases for those participating in the season (the price of Christmas trees in Australia, for example, has appreciated dramatically, following the worsening drought). The cost of the birds and gold, for example, are worth seeing in a real context, vis. appreciating food and other commodities prices.

Interestingly, the PNC CPI replicates itself for online purchases (3%, vs. the 3.1% for meat-space purchasing. That’s right, you heard me). So they’re updating their point-of-puchase surveys better than the Burea of Labour Statistics themselves (the BLS updates every 10 years, next year being the next update. Keep an eye out for that story, to see how online commerce is intergrated into the method by which our urban nuclear household purchases its basket of goods).

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