Warning of Christmas tree shortage prompts concern of higher prices

Photo: Lauren Knowlton/FlickrPhoto: Lauren Knowlton/Flickr

Experts at the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) have warned consumers to get their Christmas trees early due to a predicted tree shortage.

The shortage is due to the Great Recession that occurred in 2008, which resulted in fewer sales and thus fewer plantings. Because it generally takes around 10 years for Christmas trees to reach their desired height of seven or eight feet, the scarcity is only being felt now.

While NCTA didn’t mean to cause a run on the bank like in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” recent coverage of the shortfall has sent some running for the nearest tree lot.

“Unfortunately, consumers are getting a little bit misguided,” Marsha Gray with NCTA told CBS New York.

She says that the shortage they warned of simply meant fewer trees have been sent into the market because there were fewer to harvest. Most tree farms and nurseries haven’t been perturbed by the drop in supplies as it is part of the industry’s cycle.

“Prices are good so people buy and plant trees,” Nigel Manley of The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, New Hampshire told the Concord Monitor. “They take seven to nine years to mature, depending on the species. Within that time, the prices are holding steady. But then everybody is selling their trees at the same time and the prices go down…or they aren’t sold. Some people make it, some people don’t so people don’t plant trees – and the cycle starts again.”

NCTA spokesperson Doug Hundley expects most trees will cost an average of five to 10 percent more this year, according to Los Angeles Magazine.

The shortage is nationwide but different regions will be affected in different ways. States like Florida where it imports majority of its trees will have smaller supplies than in states like Pennsylvania where Christmas tree farms are in abundance.

“If you have access to tree farms near you, you probably will have no problem at all finding new trees to cut right up until Christmas,” Hundley told The Morning Call.

While there will be plenty of trees to choose from if you are particular about the size or type of tree, shopping early is advised.

“There’s plenty of trees to go around,” Jeff Hill, with Hill Farms told WNEP.com. “There’s going to be spotty shortages. It’s going to depend on where you’re at. We have 30 wholesale accounts, five states, and everyone got what they wanted, so there’s no reason to do anything crazy like go out and buy and artificial tree.”

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