Christmas trees this holiday season will be a lot more expensive and harder to find than in previous years due to global supply chain woes and the impact of climate change. If you want to have a tree (or multiple trees) in your living room by Christmas, you’d better start shopping now, because by Thanksgiving there may not be enough for everyone, industry insiders say.
A July report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that live tree costs have nearly doubled since 2015, while the number of trees sold has fallen 27 percent as a result of seedling shortage, wildfires and dry summers depriving farmers of available land for growing trees.
Due to supply chain challenges, artificial tree sellers have reported having to raise prices by 20 to 30 percent this holiday season, according to the American Christmas Tree Association.
“The live Christmas tree market has been impacted by extreme weather events, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, including fires, drought, smoke and flooding,” Jami Warner, the executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, told Observer. “Like all consumer goods, supply chain disruptions and congestion at the ports have held up the shipping of Christmas trees, ornaments and so many other consumer goods.”
Frans Kok, a Christmas tree farmer based in northern Virginia, said certain trees he once grew prevalently are under siege this year from a fungus that emerged with changing weather conditions. “Climate change is impacting all agriculture and in different ways,” he told CNBC. “So, the price of trees is clearly going up and that’s in part because we are low on them.”
On the import side, wholesalers are struggling to book containers amid the everything shortage. “We’re suddenly scrambling to get containers along with every other importer of goods from China,” Chris Butler, CEO of National Tree Company, a top importer and wholesaler of artificial Christmas trees and holiday decorations, told Fox Business last month. “Not only were we unable to get all of the containers that we wanted to get, but also the prices have gone up tenfold.”
Butler said his company’s most popular trees are expected to cost between $200 and $300 this year. He also predicted that retailers could run out of trees by Thanksgiving—the peak week for buying holiday decorations.
But there’s no need to panic. “Consumers should be able to find the tree they really want, but it might just take a bit more time,” said Warner of the American Christmas Tree Association. “The majority of U.S. consumers will be able to find the perfect Christmas tree for their home this year. However, this is not the year to find a tree last-minute, or to wait for a retailer sale. If you see something you like, buy it.”