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November 26, 2012

Song items top $107K

PITTSBURGH — Add seven swans, six geese and five golden rings to the list of Christmas gifts that cost more than they did a year ago. And if you get all 364 items repeated throughout “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol, you’ll pay 6.1 percent more this year, according to the annual Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

That comes to $107,300.

“The rise is larger than expected considering the modest economic growth we’ve had,” said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC.

Thrifty shoppers may find some reasons for cheer. Six items mentioned in the song haven’t gone up in price: maids-a-milking, ladies dancing, lords-a-leaping, calling birds, turtle doves and the partridge. The eight maids-a-milking still cost just $58 because the minimum wage hasn’t risen.

Twelve drummers drumming ($2,775.50) and eleven pipers piping ($2,562) might also be considered relative bargains compared to seven swans, which will set you back $7,000. Nine ladies dancing will cost you $6,294.03.

Dunigan said the 2011 drought caused the prices of some birds to soar, partly because of corn and other feed costs.

The price of a pear tree is $189.99, an 11.8 percent jump from last year’s $169.99. Five gold rings jumped 16.3 percent this year, to $750, and three French hens are now $165, instead of $150.

The $15 partridge is the cheapest item, and swans the most expensive, at $1,000 each.

Last-minute shoppers who turn to the Internet will pay a bit more for the gifts. Buying one set of the core items in each verse costs $24,431 in traditional stores this year, but $40,440 online. Part of that difference is the extra expense of shipping live birds, Dunigan said, adding that Internet costs rose 1.5 percent compared to last year.

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