With inflation and other factors coming into play, Christmas trees could be 5% to 20% more expensive this year.
For many people, the holidays just aren’t the same without a live Christmas tree. If picking out the perfect pine, spruce, or fir is part of your holiday tradition, you might want to go ahead and add a little more money to the holiday budget now. The same inflation that’s making it hard to grocery shop with a smile is behind the rising cost of Christmas trees, predicted to be anywhere from 5% to 20% higher than last year.
The good news is that unlike lumber, computer chips, and even the butter you’ll need for holiday baking, Christmas trees should be in ample supply this November and December. Christmas tree farmers are expecting a healthy harvest. However, in addition to inflation, they cite higher operating costs as a reason they must charge more for this year’s trees.
A research and promotion group called the Real Christmas Tree Board conducted a survey of 55 wholesale tree growers in August and found that 71% expect to charge their retailers higher prices this year. The surveyed wholesale growers account for two-thirds of the nationwide supply of live Christmas trees. Although some retailers may find a way to absorb some of the wholesale price increase, others will need to pass the cost along to consumers.
Executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board, Marsha Gray, said they conducted a separate consumer survey in July to find out if the higher prices would keep families from buying real Christmas trees. “They told us that they do expect to pay more for trees because of overall inflation but that they’re still going to buy their tree.” The wholesalers surveyed seemed to agree, with 67% stating that they expect to sell all the trees they harvest in 2022.
Christmas tree growers ranked possible supply chain slowdowns and other freight, shipping, and logistic issues as more significant concerns than inflation influencing shoppers’ spending this holiday season. Major wholesale Christmas tree growers live in different regions across the country, which decentralizes the market for live trees. Additionally, a Christmas tree’s seven-to-12-year growth span enables farmers to adjust supply by harvesting trees sooner or leaving them in the ground longer depending on that season’s needs.
Still, tree farms have seen operating costs skyrocket in 2022, on everything from labor to shipping costs. Bob Shaefer, CEO of Noble Mountain Tree Farm in Salem, Oregon, told CNN that he expects their wholesale prices to increase 8% this year, which matches the current consumer price inflation index. “Agriculture inflation has far surpassed consumer inflation,” he said. “We want to be as reasonable as we can with our prices given these challenges.”
Lovers of fresh Christmas trees can use a few tips and tricks to save money this holiday season even if trees are a bit pricier. Look for lots that charge a flat rate per tree, as they’re usually cheaper than those who charge by the foot. Scotch pine and other pines are almost always cheaper than spruces and firs, and you can say no to expensive add-ons like wrapping and flocking.
A local cut-it-yourself Christmas tree farm might provide cocoa, hayrides, visits with Santa, and other perks you might not be willing to eliminate from your family traditions. But if you ordinarily visit a tree lot and choose a pre-cut tree, you’ll find the best prices at discount retailers and home improvement stores. Finally, keep in mind that a smaller tree can be just as beautiful as a big one—and it will still fill your home with that wonderful evergreen aroma.