Christmas Trees May Be Harder to Find and More Expensive to Buy This Year
It may be a little harder to deck the halls this year thanks to a triple threat caused by supply chain issues, the long-term effects of the Great Recession, and extreme weather events. If you're looking to purchase a real or artificial tree this Christmas, we recommend starting your search a little earlier (Yes, even if it means before Thanksgiving!) and setting aside extra funds to make sure you're not left saying "Bah! Humbug!" when it's time to decorate for the holidays.
While COVID-19 is largely to blame for holiday stress caused by shipping delays and product shortages, the lack of real Christmas trees is caused by problems dating back to more than a decade before the pandemic hit.
Spencer Priddy of Priddy Farms in Bartlett, Tennessee, told ABC24 Memphis that this year's shortage of real trees started with the Great Recession of 2008. He said during that year and the few years after, fewer families were able to afford Christmas trees, causing an excess supply of trees. Wholesale tree farmers lost money as a result, prompting them to grow fewer trees. Since the average growth time for a Christmas tree is seven to eight years, we're just now feeling the effects of that dip in production.
Additionally, extreme weather events like wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and floods have added to the challenge for farmers in Pacific Northwest states like Oregon and Washington where much of the country's tree supply is grown. Christmas tree farmer Frans Kok of Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm in Virginia told CNBC that a fungus caused by changing weather conditions is threatening his crop.
With fuel prices up, plus a transportation and labor shortage of trucks and truck drivers needed to deliver trees all over the country, you may not have your pick of the lot when it comes to finding the perfect centerpiece for your living room.
Those looking to buy an artificial tree this year could also face difficulties. High shipping costs and ongoing global supply chain issues caused by the pandemic are mostly to blame here. For months, overseas factory shutdowns, port congestion, and shipping container and labor shortages have caused shipping disruptions. Now that the holidays are here, it may be more difficult to find in-stock artificial trees that can be delivered in time for Christmas morning.
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Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill, a California-based company specializing in direct-to-consumer artificial Christmas tree sales, told CNN Business that their tree inventory is down 22% compared to last year, and a 300% increase in shipping container prices will cause his company to charge on average 20% more for trees.
Despite the shortages and price increases, most farmers and retailers agree that there will be a tree available for every family who wants one. It may just take a little more time and touch of Christmas magic to find your family fir!