Rebekah McCahan has the greatest Christmas job in the world. She’s a paid holiday shopper tasked with purchasing every item from the “Twelve Days of Christmas” classic song. Sort of.
She’s the woman to ask how much it costs to hire eight maids-a-milking ($58 in 2012, according to ABC News).
The eight maids-a-milking are considered “unskilled labor,” and unskilled labor workers didn’t see a wage increase this year, as it is still holding at $7.25 per hour. So that’s why it is one of the least expensive gifts of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.
Rebekah doesn’t have to do a lot of leg work herself in order to find the best deals for that list, and that’s because she has been doing this job for the past 26 years, taking over for the first PNC shopper, three years before that. The tradition began 29 years ago.
Rebekah McCahan uses the Internet for her fake shopping adventure, despite it costing a good deal more to do so. The cost went up 1.5 percent between 2011 and 2012 PNC reported, and that’s due to shipping and handling charges, especially for all those birds Rebekah pretends to buy.
Fortunately, the Cyber Monday gold deals on the Internet today could help shoppers looking for those five gold rings on the “Twelve Days” list. There isn’t a lot of shipping handling cost for that.
The Christmas Price Index is the brainchild of PNC Financial Services Group, and it is a humorous take on the Consumer Price Index, which is put out by the U.S. Dept. of Labor each year. PNC has Rebekah call up her favorite merchants to see what it would cost to buy the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song items this year compared to last year.
Rebekah gets to purchase one imaginary set of each of the gifts given in the classical Christmas song, amounting to 364 items total. And it doesn’t cost her a single penny, of course.
Is that a great job or what?
On top of that she gets to choose where to make her purchases, electing to do so consistently from the same suppliers each year, so the pricing remains more consistent. She does her shopping with Philadelphia businesses.
This year Rebekah received pricing on that Partridge in a pear tree ($15) from the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. The pear tree price ($189.99) came from Philadelphia nursery Waterloo Gardens, where she got the same thing last year for only $169.99.
Pricing costs were up as much as 11.8 percent on the tree from 2011, but that’s nothing compared to the five 14-carat gold rings she bought from a national jewelry retailer at a 16.3 percent price increase this year ($750).
The seven swans purchase hurt the imaginary American pocketbook the most, costing $1,000 each. The 2011 drought impact on feed costs is being blamed.
Twelve drummers drumming set the holiday shopper back $2,775.50, and she found them this year through a Pennsylvania musicians union, along with the eleven pipers piping, which cost $2,562.
A modern dance company in Pennsylvania quoted the nine ladies dancing, a whopping $6,294.03 price tag, but the same thing paid for them last year, and the Pennsylvania Ballet was sought for a price on the needed 10 lords-a-leaping ($4,766.60), which, by the way, was also the same cost the PNC Christmas Price Index holiday shopper paid for them last year too.
Thank goodness for small miracles, especially since those six geese-a-laying had a 29.6 price increase from a $162 cost in 2011 to a $210 cost in 2012.
All in all, the PNC Christmas Price Index holiday shopper Rebekah McCahan spent a total of $25,431.18 of virtual dollars in 2012 compared to $24,263.18 in 2011, which is an increase of $1,168 in costs for the “Twelve Days of Christmas” purchases.