When should you buy a Christmas Tree?
Christmas tree growers warned that holiday tree prices could
increase 5 to 10 percent this season, thanks to a shortage of some
popular evergreens. The National Christmas Tree Association, which
represents more than 700 farms, encourages consumers to
shop early if they prefer a specific type of tree.
"There is a touch of an undersupply" that might raise prices or
bring shortages toward the end of the Christmas season, Doug
Hundley, a spokesman for the
association, told Newsweek. "If you're a
last-minute shopper, your particular retailer may sell out a week
early this year, depending on where you're shopping."
He recommends shopping between November 25 and December 1 to
optimize selection and avoid last-minute price hikes.
This year's mini-crisis is the result of a simple problem
in the Christmas tree market: The trees are grown in nursery
plantations and take between seven and 10 years to reach full size,
so growers must anticipate the demand for Christmas trees nearly a
decade in advance. The last major crisis in the tree market came in
the 1980s, when farmers had a surplus of trees, which caused
prices to drop and excess trees to be lowered to $5 in some
places. In an effort to balance the overstock, growers planted
fewer Christmas trees the next year.
A similar version of the balancing act is happening
now, Hundley told Newsweek.
"We do have confidence people will be able to find a real tree,
but they should shop early," Hundley said. "I wouldn't be scared to
buy one before Thanksgiving."
Of course, even in times of scarcity there's a limit to how
high Christmas tree vendors will raise their prices. If prices go
too high, tree buyers may seek solace-and a permanent solution to
supply-and-demand issues-with an artificial Christmas
tree. Studies indicate that fake tree buyers keep the plastic
icons for close to seven years, cutting into the market for
the estimated 25 to 30 million real spruces, firs and
pines sold every year.
"It's a tight supply, and the markets move together," Mark
Arkills, a production manager for Holiday Tree Farms in
Oregon, told Newsweek. "If we push retail prices too
high, we risk pushing someone to a fake tree. That's something we
have to be sensitive to."
The top-ranking states for Christmas tree production are Oregon,
Washington, North Carolina and Michigan, said Arkills, who has
been in the business for 30 years. The tree supply
is tight in those large markets; small states have a smaller
but steadier supply. Top exporters will be at a "low level of
production" for another three to five years.
Don't worry about buying too early, Hundley said. The trees can
last between four and six weeks if properly cared for,
meaning buyers should immediately get the tree into a strong
stand and not let it dry out during the holiday
"All trees look really good once they are decorated," Hundley
said. "You don't have to buy the best tree to get it to look good.
That Charlie Brown tree is a winner, too."
View artcile and video on Newsweek.com
Written by Linley Sanders.
Monday, November 6, 2017