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November 30, 1996

Renewing the American Christmas Tree Tradition

by William Heartstone, Staff Journalist

WASHINGTON DESK - The official start of the Christmas shopping season jump-started today. With the increase in the cost of labor, most Christmas presents will cost a good deal more than last year. Christmas Tree Vital Statistics reported by the Economics Institute Friday estimated sale of fresh-cut Christmas trees for 1996 at about 37 million. The actual sale of 1994 trees was only 33 million. Average cost for a fir tree of 6 feet in height will be $34. That's an increase of 6.2% since last year.

Howard Hobbs, the chief economist at the Institute told Daily Republican journalists on Friday that the Twelve Days of Christmas will cost nearly 6% more than last year.

The Wall Street Journal reported the annual Christmas Price Index pegged the cost increase of one set of the items in the Twelve Days of Christmas at 9.45% since last year.

The biggest jump came for the Christmas dancers. The Philadelphia Dance Company, the performance fees of Nine Ladies Dancing rose 25 % since last year. The Eight Milkmaids for one hour of labor drove the price up for 11.8 % since last year.

The Ten Lords-a-Leaping are charging the same rate as last year. And the Gold Rings and Swans held to the old 1996 rate.

The Economics Institute also reported Friday, that the rise in the Christmas Index for the first 9 months of 1996 outpaced the official government inflation rate for the same period. The increases had not been anticipated in the president's forecast and prognostications prior to the November election.

The computed cost of The Twelve Days of Christmas items multiplied by each time they're mentioned over 12 verses - rose 9.5% from $51,765 to $54,478.


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