Cost of Christmas becomes Brand Story for PNC

Over thirty years ago, PNC began their whimsical holiday tradition of calculating the cost of Christmas, as defined by the twelve gifts in the Christmas Carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The total this year comes in at a whopping $34,558.65. But that’s a less than 1% increase over last year, although the total price has nearly doubled since the initial calculation of $18,845.97 in 1984.

Let’s see how the costs allocate by gift. As the song goes, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

·       A Partridge in a Pear Tree: $219.95. This item accounted for an increase of nearly 5%, and all of that came from the pear tree, as the price of partridges was stable year-over-year. The tree spike was caused by higher labor costs as well as a shortage of more desirable trees.

·       Two Turtledoves: $375.00.  After a nearly 30% increase in turtledove prices in 2016, everyone is happy that prices have remained stable in 2017.

·       Three French Hens: $181.50. Perhaps 2017 has been a stable year for poultry, as the supply and demand for French hens were stable and kept prices level.

·       Four Calling Birds: $599.96. Again, reflecting a stable poultry market, pricing for calling birds is exactly where it was in 2016.

·       Five Gold Rings: $875.00. Increasing by 10% over 2016, gold rings are shining brightly again this year. (As PNC commented: Ooh, la la!)

·       Six Geese-A-Laying: $360.00. This year was quiet on the goose-front, with no negative impact from avian flu. Prices remained stable, after years of wild fluctuations.

·       Seven Swans a Swimming: $13,125.00. Swan prices have traditionally been an erratic element of the Cost of Christmas, but this year remained stable over 2016. (Although at that price we assume PNC is including the pond they are swimming in as part of the total cost of this gift!)

·       Eight Maids a Milking: $58.00. Reflecting the stagnant federal minimum wage, costs for milkmaid services remained stable over the past twelve months.

·       Nine Ladies Dancing: $7,552.84. Despite increasing demand for female dancers, dance companies toed the line on salary increases, causing the price of this gift to remain stable for the past five years.

·       Ten Lords a Leaping: $5,618.90. High-jumping royalty increased 2% in price this year over two years of no growth.

·       Eleven Pipers Piping: $2,708.40. After receiving a price increase last year (for the first time since 2013), prices for musicians remained stable this year.

·       Twelve Drummers Drumming: $2,034.10. Drummers shared in the musician wage and price increase of 2016, so this year the price is unchanged.

While a single repetition of each gift would make your wallet lighter by $34,558.65, you will recall that each verse is repeated several times, and therefore multiples of the gifts are given. The cumulative cost of Christmas this year is $157,558.00! And if you take advantage of purchasing the gifts online, the cost is $45,096.43 or cumulatively $201,848.65. (Makes you feel better about that iPhone X, doesn’t it?)

While calculating the cost of Christmas is fun, the important part is that this reinforces the PNC Bank brand in an interesting and amusing way. In addition to a website devoted to the Cost of Christmas, PNC has classroom aids for educators, a video of the challenge of finding every item on the list, and a downloadable coloring book, to help you deal with holiday stress. While financial services may be associated more commonly with Scrooge than gift-giving, PNC breaks the mold with this corporate holiday tradition.

Whether you’re buying your true love these gifts or not, Infosurv Research wishes you a wonderful holiday season, from our family to yours!