Holiday season

Is there a shortage of Christmas trees this holiday season?

Time is running out to get your tree this year.

Evgeniia Siiankovskaia/Getty Images

Pulling on a sweater after Thanksgiving weekend to pick out a Christmas tree is one of my favorite childhood memories. It’s not just the cold air that echoes during the holiday season; it’s the fresh smell of pine, that mess of needles and the comfort of graceful fairy lights.

But most Americans don’t buy real trees anymore — they get fake ones. In 2020, 85% of American households had artificial Christmas trees, according to a survey by the American Christmas Tree Association. And as with many things this holiday season, supply chain disruptions could threaten the stock of artificial Christmas trees in the United States, increasing the chances of shortages in December. The website of Balsam Hill, a leading artificial tree retailer, shows that trees are still available, but many models are out of stock.

The good news – at least for me – is that real Christmas trees should be plentiful. Although experts always advise buyers to buy as early as possible. “The market will be overloaded with people wanting to buy a tree early,” said Tim O’Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association.

Whichever type of tree you opt for this year, here’s what you need to know to avoid the holiday rush.

What is causing vacation shortages this year?

Global supply chain disruptions triggered by the pandemic last year have extended into 2021.

Experts expect an increase in demand for Christmas products this year, which could create further problems in the chain as people shop earlier for the holidays. Given shortages of items like the microchips that power phones and the magnets commonly used in toys, your holiday gifts may arrive late – if not completely out of stock.

Will there be a shortage of “fake trees” in 2021?

Not exactly. According to Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill, a leading Christmas tree retailer, there should be a solid supply of artificial Christmas trees, but you might not find what you’re looking for if you wait around. the last minute.

“The supply chain pipe has been 95% full for years,” Harman said. “Right now, especially because everyone is at home, there is a demand for specialty household products. All of a sudden the hose is running at 120-130% capacity.” He went on to say, “The big box stores didn’t ship their trees at their usual time this year. They delayed it because they were busy finishing up Halloween. Before Halloween, they were coming home. at school. It’s all behind.”

Harman’s advice: If you know what you want and it’s available, buy it now. If you still haven’t bought a tree, you might want to pick your second or third best option to make sure you have a tree in time for Christmas.

Will there be a shortage of “real trees” in 2021?

No. But there’s always a benefit to shopping early. And since it’s already December, that means you should shop now.

“We’ve never run out of Christmas trees in any community in this country,” O’Connor said. “We have pitches that sell out,” he added, “but that doesn’t stop you from going somewhere not too far. And there’s always unsold stock at the end of the season.”

Oregon, the largest state growing Christmas trees in the United States, has been beset by drought, rising temperatures and disruptions to water supplies. But the impact of those threats won’t be felt this holiday season, O’Connor says, because Christmas trees take about 10 years to grow. The trees we will be harvesting this year are mature, leaving the trauma of 2021 to be felt hardest by young crops.

That said, the best advice is always to shop early for real trees if there’s a particular tree you’re looking for, if there’s a particular place you like to shop, or if you want the best quality, according to O’ Connor.

Will the prices be higher?

Experts expected real and artificial tree prices to be higher this year, and they were right. Increases in inflation and producer costs, including transportation and labor, drive up prices, according to O’Connor. And higher shipping costs will inflate the amount you end up paying for artificial trees, according to Harman.

When is the best time to buy a Christmas tree this year?

Whether you opt for a real or artificial tree, you’ll want to shop around as soon as possible. If you wait until later in the holiday season, you might be able to find a real Christmas tree, but that might not be exactly what your family — or Santa Claus — wants.

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