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On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: A 10.5% Price Hike (PNC CPI)

For the 39th year, PNC calculated the cost of Christmas. With the year-over-year increase in 2022 being the third highest on record, inflation for services far outstripped goods in this year’s PNC Christmas Price Index® (PNC CPI) — a light-hearted take on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index — which measures the average change in prices consumers should expect to pay for True Love’s gifts, outlined in the classic holiday carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

READ — 5 Ways Small Business Owners in Colorado Can Survive Inflation

“True Loves will need to come up with a record $45,523.27 to buy those 12 perfect gifts this year,” said Amanda Agati, chief investment officer for PNC Asset Management Group. “This is a disquieting development for many, as pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and elevated energy and commodity prices continue to impact the cost of goods and services. Despite True Loves’ generous intentions, the gifts that make up the PNC CPI are not well-insulated from what is being experienced across the broader economy.”

Driving much of the increase is the cost of some birds in the index. While the Partridge, Calling Birds and Swans saw no flight in price, the cost of others, including Turtle Doves, French Hens and Geese, flew up 20.1%. Services are also higher, contributing significantly to the overall increase.

The cost of all 12 gifts is reported on PNC’s interactive website, which is meant to be as fun as it is educational. Highlights of the double-digit increase in the PNC CPI to $45,523.27 include:

  • Far-out fertilizer prices: A key driver of the spike in the pear tree is the cost of fertilizer, which saw a growth of 28.4%.
  • Soaring service costs: Services inflation, driven by increased wages and labor costs, is higher than goods inflation in the PNC CPI, much like the BLS CPI. This year, services in the PNC CPI, represented primarily by the performers, are up 14.5% while goods increased just 4.2%.
  • Gold rings gaining: Given inflation concerns, some investors dashed for store-of-value assets like gold again this year. Gold ring prices are up a whopping 39% from 2021, reflecting the surge in the precious metal’s price during the year.

READ — Finding the Silver Lining Amidst Rising Interest and Inflation Rates

“While the gifts in this specialty basket of goods and services are truly unique, investors and consumers alike might consider asking their True Love for a different kind of gift this year instead,” Agati suggested.

The Federal Reserve has aggressively raised interest rates throughout the year to combat inflation against an already slowing economic growth backdrop and all indications are there is more to come.

“Markets continue to focus on two critical variables for the path forward: signs of inflation peaking and rolling over, and the Fed completing its tightening of financial conditions. In the absence of confirmation on both, we think the high volatility regime is going to continue to dominate and markets are likely to stay pretty choppy,” she added.

Price Increases for Services Outstripped Goods in 2022

True Loves who want to delight can do so with performers, but at a price. The price of Nine Ladies Dancing climbed to new heights, as did the Ten Lords-a-Leaping, who jumped for joy as they returned to in-person performances. Eleven Pipers Piping rose to a new tune, and the 12 Drummers Drumming found a higher beat. In aggregate, prices for performers increased 14.6% this year.

Although many states and localities across the country have raised minimum wages recently, the federal minimum wage has not increased since July 2009; thus, the Eight Maids-a-Milking haven’t seen a pay raise in more than a decade.

Unfortunately, tech-savvy True Loves will not save by going the e-commerce route. Buying all 12 gifts virtually is “just” 8.9% higher this year, still an eye-popping $49,663.73. Free shipping on livestock purchases is still not an option.

The annual PNC CPI tradition includes calculating the “True Cost of Christmas,” which is the total cost of items bestowed by a True Love who repeats all the song’s verses. Purchasing all 364 gifts will cost $197,071.09, which means that spreading cheer in 2022 costs 9.8% more than it did a year ago.

“Like the index, consumer behavior is the drumbeat for the U.S. economy,” Agati said. “With 70% of U.S. GDP tied to consumption, consumer financial health is key to future market performance. We will be keeping an eye on guiding stars like retail sales, savings rates and consumer sentiment as indicators of the success of this holiday season.”

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Started in 1984 by a PNC predecessor bank in Philadelphia, the PNC CPI was initially developed to include in holiday messages to clients. Now, it is intended to educate consumers while spreading some holiday joy and highlighting market changes over time.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC) is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit


Half Full or Half Empty? Denver Business Owners Split on Optimism

With concerns around inflation and the beginning stages of a recession, a new survey of small and mid-sized business owners conducted by PNC reveals about half are optimistic about the economy or near-term future of their business.

With such an even split, it’s hard not to think of the adage, is that glass half full or half empty?

READ — What Does a Recession Mean for Your Finances?

ColoradoBiz took a look at the findings in PNC’s recent Economic Outlook, a survey seeking to measure confidence in the Denver metro economy by capturing business owners’ attitudes and sentiments on a variety of topics including the economy, hiring, regulatory environment and technology and how business owners think they’ll ride out inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions and political and geopolitical uncertainties related to the national and local economies.

Overall, the results showed that Denver business leaders expectations about their own companies remain strong, with half feeling highly optimistic, similar to the national survey (49%), while the share of those feeling pessimistic is just 2% compared to 7% among business leaders nationally. Nearly two in 10 (18%) Denver business leaders are highly optimistic about the national economy compared with 22% among business leaders nationally. Six in 10 (61%) are moderately optimistic while two in 10 (21%) Denver leaders are pessimistic.

The findings are broken down into distinctive categories: price hikes and coping with inflation; supply chain disruptions; staff shortages; raises/employee compensation; recessionary fears, and consumer prices. PNC rotates major cities in this bi-annual effort and surveyed Denver last in Spring of 2021.

READ — PNC CO Regional President Guest Commentary: The War on Talent

Key Findings from PNC:

  • Concerns about inflation and the impact of price hikes on their businesses remain top of mind among Denver executives. Price increases are in the works among nearly six in 10 (59%) Denver businesses compared to 63% nationally. Of Denver businesses expecting to raise their own prices to their customers, more than a third (34% vs. 36% nationally) expect to raise them by 5% or more in the next six months.
  • The primary rationale for price hikes is favorable market conditions (56% vs. 44% nationally) and keeping up with rising non-labor costs (32% vs. 38% nationally). Just over one in 10 (12% vs. 18% nationally) point to rising labor costs. Price pressures on their businesses, and elevated supplier costs and capital spending also are factors.
  • In addition to increasing prices for their own goods and services, over seven in 10 (72%) have indicated they are making other adjustments to address higher inflation, including increasing efficiency, cutting costs and managing cash flow.
  • Supply chain disruptions continue to be a concern for Denver business owners and have affected four in 10 of those relying on a supply chain, compared to 47% nationally.
  • Less than two in 10 (16%) relying on inventory in their supply chain are coming up short. Denver owners remain hopeful: nearly half (48%) expect supply chain timeliness to improve in the next six months.
  • Over four in 10 (44%) Denver businesses face staff shortages, compared to 41% nationally, and hiring continues to be a challenge for many.
  • A third of Denver business leaders expect to increase employee compensation, compared to 40% nationally. More than one in 10 (14%) Denver business owners or leaders expect to continue or increase signing, retention or other bonuses in the next six months compared to more than two in 10 (23%) nationally.
  • Denver business owners are expressing concerns that a recession is on the horizon. Almost two-thirds (65%) fear a recession is likely in the next 12 months compared to 69% nationally. Three in 10 (29% vs. 30% nationally) believe the likelihood of a recession in the next 12 months is very likely.
  • Aside from any pricing changes they expect to make in their own businesses, four in 10 (39%) of all Denver owners expect to see consumer prices in the economy, overall, increase by 5% or more in the next 12 months. This price change expectation compares to 36% of owners nationally who expect an increase of 5% or more.


Along with its findings, PNC senior analyst Kurt Ranking included the following commentary to summarize the findings.

Denver’s economy has performed well in recovery after the pandemic induced recession. The market’s labor force is 4% above its pre pandemic level, compared to essentially no change for the nation.  According to PNC’s Economic Outlook Survey, Denver’s small and mid-sized business owners intend to raise prices for their goods and services to a degree similar to that expected across the U.S.

The root of those price hikes is confidence in the regional economy’s capacity to absorb the increases, which is higher than the national findings (56% vs. 44%), rather than higher labor costs. Denver’s economy is positioned to ride out the remainder of the current inflationary tide and has enough labor market strength to rebound relatively well after any broader slowdown in the U.S. economy.

Denver’s households are well positioned to help the local market’s economy navigate near term economic volatility. Wage growth in Denver has nearly kept pace with inflation throughout the past 18 months, allowing consumers to better afford the higher prices that have affected all facets of their household budgets.

The upside to this is that Denver households have accumulated less debt and depleted less of their savings than in many parts of the nation where wage growth has not matched consumer price growth. If the U.S. economy slows in 2023, the relatively stronger consumer balance sheets in the region will provide more cushion to fall back on, and thus should require less consumer pullback and less of a slowing in job growth as a result.


For more information visit PNC’s Economic Reports page where their economists provide analyses and forecasts of national, regional and global economic & financial trends.

PNC CO Regional President Guest Commentary — The War on Talent

With so many companies now hiring, it can be a race to get a competitive, first offer out to candidates. These days, if companies don’t make an offer within two weeks of the first interview, the prospective employee is very likely to receive another offer from a competitor sooner. Retaining top talent is also more challenging than ever. Often based on a simple LinkedIn profile search, many recruiters are luring existing workers away by offering significantly more money to join a new organization.  

As employers strive to navigate this new normal in the workplace, these are some of the attributes many candidates are seeking when evaluating whether to join a company.   

  • Company culture 
  • Wellness initiatives (physical health, mental health, financial health) 
  • Continuing education 
  • Flexible work environment 
  • Defined career path 

Here is one way PNC is assisting our clients in this challenging environment: Earlier this year we participated in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual workplace symposium. The 45-minute breakout session focused on the importance of annually reviewing employee benefits, and what to consider when selecting or contemplating a change to a new or existing benefits plan.  

Our Organizational Financial Wellness (OFW) group offers a suite of financial wellness education tools and resources for our clients’ employees. We also provide 401k advisement services and HSA’s (Health Savings account) guidance. At the close of the symposium, our OFW group offered product-specific solutions and assured all attendees they will always have a trusted partner in us.   

It is imperative to annually review benefits, expenses, and budgets. PNC constantly evaluates its vendors to enhance our benefits program. We also engage or re-engage with employees to improve retention and productivity. At the executive level, our Private Bank offers a suite of solutions through the Institute for Family Success, Trust & Estate Services. 

Our mission is to encourage our current and prospective clients to take care of their greatest assets – their employees. When workers grow concerned about their finances, that can negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Studies show that financially stressed employees cost American businesses an average of $500 billion a year in productivity alone.  

Through PNC’s program, we encourage and support the empowerment of employees by developing a suite of solutions for all levels of an organization at every stage of life — from broad-based employees to middle and upper management and even C-Suite Executives. Our dedicated bankers support clients in person and virtually to help with planning, education, and personalized products to meet employee needs. OFW helps employees build strong financial habits, creating a more confident and productive workforce for our clients, and that can help companies win the talent war. 


Ryan Beiser HeadshotRyan Beiser is regional president for PNC Bank, Colorado. In this role, Beiser is responsible for leading overall growth across Colorado, with a specific focus on the Denver Metro area, as well as overseeing all aspects of Corporate Banking in the region. His office implements all local sponsorship and philanthropic efforts to execute PNC’s community-based goals and initiatives.

Active in the community, Beiser is a member of YPO Colorado and serves on the board of directors for Mile High United Way, the Craig Hospital Foundation, the American Heart Association of Colorado and the Children’s Museum of Denver. He also represents PNC on the board of advisors for the University of Colorado Denver Business School, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission for the State of Colorado, and the Major Gifts Council for Early Childhood Education of the Mile High United Way.