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Christmas tree rush starts early this year, inflation sends prices higher

Supplies are back to pre-pandemic levels.
A lot of people get the holiday blues, here's how to cope during a pandemic and when to get help
Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 07:08:49-05

There is still over a month until Christmas.

But, with prices on everything up this year, it's time to start thinking about your Christmas tree if you don't have one yet.

Bryan Keeton is among those getting an early start.

But there is a reason in his case: He is a Christmas tree farmer, at his Ohio farm, Big Tree Plantation.

After two tough pandemic years, with trucking problems and staffing issues, he's hoping for a stellar season.

"Actually this year we have more trees than we had the past couple of years," he told us, walking around his expansive farm covered with fir trees.

He's seen a resurgence in demand for live trees since the pandemic: Pre-cut, or cut your own, like those he grows in his fields.

"We could sell 4,000 trees a year," he said.

He is trying to keep his live prices at last year's levels.

Prices up on both live and artificial trees this year

But, many farms have no choice but to raise prices due to soaring fertilizer and trucking costs.

A national survey of tree growers found back-end costs are up 11 percent or more.

Most growers - 71% - say wholesale prices will be up 5-15 percent compared to last year.

So with prices high on live trees, what about those artificial trees? They can be used for several seasons.

The good news that you'll find supplies back to the levels where they were before the pandemic. The shortages of last year are gone.

But, don't wait. Demand is at an all-time high.

E-commerce accelerator Pattern recently looked at online demand for artificial Christmas trees.

They found searches on Amazon were up 59 percent in July, and 60 percent in August, compared with a year ago.

Why so early?

Dallin Hatch of Pattern says some consumers were worried about drought, others about continued supply problems.

He also says many people made lifestyle changes during the pandemic, such as moving from a city apartment to the suburbs.

"They might have more room in their house and maybe can actually get a real, or perhaps a full-size tree for the first time," he said.

What you can do

To save money, Hatch suggests you:

  • Buy early, before the best deals are gone.
  • Look for Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales at big box stores.
  • Or wait to buy an artificial tree until after the holidays, if you have an older one in the closet or attic.

Even if prices are higher this year, Hatch says more people seem willing to spend the money if it is on something that brings holiday joy.

"Some of these rituals that we have when it comes to holidays," he explained, "it's a way for us to escape some of the stresses that we're feeling in the world."

Back at the farm, Keeton agrees.

"This is just what they want to do to create those memories," he said.

And he says those lifelong memories, and some photos to accompany them, are why a cut-your-own live tree can be worth paying extra for.

That way you don't waste your money.

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