Christmas tree buyers face reduced supplies, higher prices

Both real and artificial Christmas trees are in short supply right now. This is because of disruptions to the economy. Extreme weather, COVID-19, inflation and supply chain issues have contributed to this.

Inflation is an increase in the prices of products and services. As prices go up, the value of the currency goes down. The supply chain is all the steps it takes to make and transport products.

People who work in the Christmas tree industry said shoppers will have fewer choices in the types of trees available to buy. Shoppers should also expect to pay more for their tree, they said. Prices may be up by about one-third of what they usually are. That is an extra 30 cents for every dollar.

"It's a double whammy," said Jami Warner. She is the director of the American Christmas Tree Association. The organization informs people about Christmas trees. Growers have been hit hard by extreme weather conditions, Warner said. There have been floods, fires, smoke, drought and high temperatures.

Extreme Heat Affected Tree Farms

Oregon and Washington are two of the country's largest tree growers. In June, the two states experienced extreme heat and wildfires. These weather events took a toll on Christmas tree farms.

Warner does not know how many fewer trees there were this year. However, a single tree can take 10 years to grow. The loss in the number of trees will be felt for many seasons in the future.

There are currently not enough truck drivers working in the United States. This is making it harder to transport live trees. The trees have to be moved from farms to stores and tree lots. The low supply of truck drivers is also making the process more expensive.

Warner has some advice for people if they want a tree. She said people should shop early.

Tree Prices Have Gone Up

Dale Pine and Stacy Valenzuela own a Christmas tree lot. It is in Alameda, California. It is called Crystal River Christmas Trees. They struggled to get enough trees to sell this year. Many of their suppliers are in Oregon. The suppliers lost trees during the heat wave last summer.

"It was looking pretty grim," Valenzuela said.

Crystal River had to raise prices this year. The costs of trees, labor and truck delivery have all gone up.

Ian Steplowski lives in Alameda. He came to the Crystal River lot with his family to buy a tree.

"We're having shortages of everything," Steplowski said. He said that he has noticed everything has been a bit more expensive this year.

There Are Also Fewer Artificial Trees

Teri Schaffert lives in San Mateo, California. She heard about the shortage of real trees this year. She decided to buy an artificial tree for the first time. She went shopping for one before Thanksgiving. She went to a tree store called Balsam Hill.

"I came in early because I heard in the news that there's not going to be enough fresh Christmas trees," said Schaffert. "I have to get ready for the future."

The artificial tree industry is also struggling with supply. Balsam Hill's artificial trees come from China. That is where they are made. Shipping ports are backed up. There are not enough truck drivers. This is delaying shipments and raising costs, said Caroline Tuan. She works at Balsam Hill. Balsam's trees are about one-fifth more expensive this year. There are also fewer types of trees available.

"That has been very challenging," Tuan said. "All of that has impacted us, which means that we have fewer trees to sell as an industry."

David Cruise lives in Brentwood, California. He was worried about the effect of the wildfires and drought on tree supply. This year, he bought his first artificial tree. Considering climate change in California, Cruise thinks artificial trees are the way to go.