Christmas trees will cost more with limited selections this holiday season | Local News


Many people are looking beyond Thanksgiving until Christmas as they prepare for a holiday shopping season marked by higher prices and limited options.

And this year, that includes Christmas trees.

Growers and sellers are raising prices as they encourage people to buy Christmas trees early, warning that some varieties may be hard to find. Meanwhile, prices for artificial trees are expected to rise due to the same supply chain, personnel and energy price shortages that have driven up the costs of many consumer goods.

“There will be enough trees for everyone, but they might not have their first choice,” said Randy Hunt, whose family owns Hunt’s Christmas trees at 465 Stehman Road in the United States. Township of Manor.

Hunt said he plans to sell some 1,100 trees this year, including 300 purchased to supplement those grown on the farm. While higher labor costs have pushed up the prices for the farm’s own trees, some of the biggest increases are for trees purchased from wholesalers in central and northern Pennsylvania.

“The bigger ones were very hard to find and when we found them they were a bit more expensive,” he said.

This year, for example, an 8- to 10-foot Fraser fir – one of the most popular varieties – costs $ 200, down from $ 132.85 last year. A 6 to 8 foot Fraser fir costs $ 100 this year, compared to $ 80.85 last year. Other 6 to 8 foot trees cost $ 70.

Long-term trends, short-term peaks

Since they can take up to 10 years to mature, this year’s offering of Christmas trees is based on planning decisions made a decade ago. At the time, fewer trees were being planted because growers were still recovering from the great recession of 2008-09, said Doug Hundley, spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association, which represents growers.

This longer-term trend explains most of this year’s price hikes, which Hundley says are typically between 5% and 10%, and follows decades of falling prices amid plentiful supply.

“Finally, we don’t have an oversupply of trees, so prices have gone up dramatically for wholesale and retail,” said Hundley, who grows trees in North Carolina.

Shorter-term demand increases are expected to continue from last year, when the National Christmas Tree Association said people locked in during the pandemic increasingly wanted to create a traditional Christmas experience with a real tree. .

Additionally, an overall increase in trading costs amid supply chain disruptions has made things generally more expensive, although this has been a bigger issue for some sellers of artificial Christmas trees, who are getting products. from china.

Earlier in the fall, some sellers of artificial trees warned of a 20% increase in costs as higher shipping costs pushed up prices and cut supplies, according to the American Christmas Tree. Association, a non-profit organization that promotes living and artificial trees.

Last year, the American Christmas Tree Association estimated that 75% of American households, or nearly 94 million, had a Christmas tree in their home. Eighty-five percent of those trees were artificial and 15 percent were real, according to the results of its annual Christmas Tree Survey.

Shalaeya Brown, spokesperson for Lowe’s, which sells artificial trees, declined to comment on any price increases but told LNP | LancasterOnline, the retailer, ordered inventory earlier than last year and has its ‘biggest selection ever’.

But she added: “There isn’t an endless supply of holiday products, so we encourage consumers to buy early so they have the widest range of options on the timeline they need and at the price. that they want.”

“We sell an experience”

Lancaster County is home to about a dozen farms that sell pre-cut trees or offer a pick and cut option. Live trees are also sold in some big box stores as well as from temporary facilities in some parking lots.

Like the Hunt Christmas trees in Manor Township, many local growers supplement trees from their own fields with trees purchased from wholesalers. And because wholesale trees have been more expensive this year, they tend to increase the prices of a farm’s own trees, Hundley said.

“It’s only natural that they give all their trees the same price,” he said.

Susan Miller, owner of Miller’s Tree Farm at 470 Trail Road N. in Mount Joy Township, said she expects to bring back about a quarter of the trees they will sell this year, saying that in addition to being more expensive, wholesale trees were harder to find this year because some farms have gone bankrupt or are keeping all of their trees for themselves.

“There has been a shortage, actually, and everyone is trying to get their farms back,” Miller said, explaining that the bigger trees are more expensive as well as the increased costs of fertilizer and labor. work encouraged them to increase the prices of their trees for this year.

Miller’s, which prices trees by the foot, has increased its costs by $ 1 since 2020, allowing it to sell Douglas firs at $ 11.50 per foot and Frasier firs at $ 13.50 per foot.

Deb Weaver, owner of Heritage Tree Farm at 142 Church Road in Warwick Township, said they stopped wholesaling a few years ago but were inundated this year with calls from retailers to looking for trees, especially near large cities.

“Everyone was telling us, ‘If you want to make money before you open, just wholesale your trees,’” she said, explaining that the wholesale prices were almost what they were. bill retail customers who come to the farm.

But Weaver, who declined to release prices, said the farm’s business model is not just about selling, but rather catering to customers for whom securing a tree is part of the holiday tradition.

“We’re selling an experience… we don’t want someone to come for a lower price,” she said.

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