Of partridges and pear trees

Buying your true love the "12 Days of Christmas gifts will be more expensive this year, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. The 2011 PNC Christmas Price Index, compiled by Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Serices Group Inc., finds that it will cost $24,263.18 if you buy all 78 items in the song,  up 3.5 percent from 2010. If you purchase the entire 364 items mentioned in the classic English carol, it will cost $101,119.84, up 4 percent from the $96,824.29 in 2010, the first time in 28 years the index had broken $100,000.


"Seven Swans-a-Swimming," will cost $6,300 (up 12.5 percent from 2010, Nine Ladies Dancing are $6,294 (unchanged) and 10 Lords-a-Leaping are a bargain at $4,766.70 (also unchanged). The biggest increases in 2011 compared to last year will come if you want a partridge in a pear tree or two turtle doves. The partridge will run $15, up 25 percent from 2010, and the pear tree will cost $169.99, up 13 percent. The price of two turtle doves is $125, also up 25 percent.


Four calling birds (down 13 percent to $519.96) and five gold rings ($645, down 1 percent) are the only two Christmas commodities to decline though several others are unchanged.


"As the economy continues to struggle, we are seeing weakness in some areas of demand within the Index," said James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management, in a prepared statement. He pointed to the price of gold rings, which on the retail level is less than it has been.