Christmas Tree Shortage Has Prices Skyrocketing

It looks like the trends of living greener and eating cleaner are finding a place in the holiday season. Environmentally conscious millennials are giving Christmas tree farmers a much-needed boost by choosing to buy natural and locally grown trees.

That’s according to recent data released by the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) and Square Inc. It’s very welcome news for those on the “real” side of the very intense Christmas tree debate.

All Natural

Let’s face it; times have been tough for tree farms over the past couple of decades. Last year, a Nielsen survey for the American Christmas Tree Association found that while 76% of people put a tree up in their houses over the holidays, only 19% of them were real.

But the NCTA says there was a 17% rise in the price of real trees between 2015 and 2017, and that’s because eco-friendly millennials are looking to do things as organically and naturally as possible. Even Christmas.

Open Your Wallets

But those looking to be “green” this holiday season better be ready to shell out a lot of green too.

The Wall Street Journal says in New York City, Uptown Christmas Trees increased its prices by $5-$15 per tree this year. The article says balsam and Fraser firs are selling for anywhere between $80 and $140 a pop.

SoHo Trees is selling a seven-footer for about $150, up from $130 each a couple of years ago.

Some people have a hard time justifying that kind of money for a couple of weeks of joy.

Why So Pricey?

While demand might be up, supply is unusually low, and there are a few different reasons for that.

For one, the last recession is coming back to haunt us. In the WSJ article, the NCTA explains that the price of real trees dropped dramatically after the economic crisis in 2008. People started cutting back on unnecessary things such as decorations. As a result, fewer trees were planted in the following year, and since they take about ten years to grow, we’re only feeling the pinch now.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the number of Christmas tree farms are on the decline too. According to ABC News, Oregon is the top Christmas tree producer in the US. In 2010, there were 700 licensed growers. Today, there are just under 400.

From The Economy To Climate Change

A report by the Miami Herald blames the shortage in South Florida on climate change. It says more hurricanes and wildfires caused by changing weather patterns mean fewer trees.

The owner of Uptown Christmas Trees told the WSJ she blames a migrant labor shortage and new trucking regulations making it hard to find drivers willing to deliver trees from Canada to New York City. She buys a lot of her trees from Canada, and says early, heavy snow has also resulted in fewer available Christmas trees.

There’s some truth to that rumor. In Nova Scotia, Canada, about a million trees are harvested every year, most of them for export. But Global News reports that many growers were affected by a late spring freeze this year, causing the beautiful green branches to turn a burnt orange or brown. One grower told the news outlet he lost almost 50% of his crop.  

Whatever the reason, if you’re a fan of the real deal and the smell of fresh pine in your home, expect to pay a little more than usual this Christmas.

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.