Spending

Buying your true love 6 geese-a-laying could cost about 60% more this year — how inflation hits the '12 days of Christmas'

The cost of two turtle doves increased 50% from two years ago, from $300 to $450.

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It looks like almost nothing is safe from inflation this year, and that extends to the gifts your true love might get you for the 12 days of Christmas. PNC's annual Christmas Price Index estimates how much it might cost to buy all the gifts from the iconic holiday song, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming.

This year's grand total for each of the 12 days comes in at about $41,205, an increase of 5.7% from 2019, according to PNC's calculations, mirroring the broader inflation that has gripped the U.S. economy in recent months.

The biggest price jumps on the list are for the birds: The price of geese rose more than 57% in 2021 compared to 2019, the biggest increase of any gift on PNC's index. Buying six of them will set your true love back $660.

The cost of two turtle doves increased 50% from two years ago, from $300 to $450.

Other gifts, like eights maids-a-milking, whose price relies on the cost of labor, saw no increase at all, since the federal minimum wage continues to be $7.25.

Inflation continues to be 'surprisingly high'

PNC's Christmas Price Index is a cheeky way to look at rising prices, since few people would buy these gifts. This year, however, it feels particularly resonant because it mirrors actual inflation so closely.

Prices have risen steadily for the better part of the year, and while some economists initially thought inflation would be temporary and level out, that hasn't come to pass. Case in point: The consumer price index hit 6.2% in October, the highest such increase in 30 years.

"Even with expectations of high inflation, the [October] numbers were still surprisingly high," says Greg McBride, Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. Many economists were expecting the number to be near 6%, but it "kind of blew the doors off coming in at 6.2%."

By contrast, the Christmas Price Index only rose 5.7%.

Consumers have continued to spend at record levels. The National Retail Federation expects holiday outlays to be as high as $859 billion this year — a potential increase of 10.5% from 2020.

"Inflation is definitely weighing on household budgets and consumer psyche, but it's not something that's materially altered consumer spending patterns yet," McBride says. How long consumers will be willing to continue spending at elevated levels despite higher prices "is certainly something worth following in 2022."

Buy your holiday gifts sooner rather than later

Ongoing supply chain issues have meant that many store shelves are much emptier than they might have been in years past. As a result, fewer retailers offered blow-out sales on Black Friday weekend and instead began offering holiday deals months before the typical holiday shopping season.

Many analysts expect stores to sell out of items even without offering doorbuster discounts, so, if you're shopping in store and see something you like, grab it: It may not be there later if you wait, experts say.

You may find more selection if you're shopping online, but you risk running into shipping delays and not receiving your gifts on time, experts say. As such, it's smart to order your gifts as quickly as possible.

"The sooner you order, the sooner you can expect your items to arrive," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, recently told Grow. "While this might not take care of delays entirely, it will give you more padding so that hopefully your items can arrive sooner rather than later."

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