(The Center Square) — Minnesotans preparing for Christmas are experiencing higher sticker prices for both real and artificial Christmas trees amid nationally soaring inflation and supply chain challenges.
Artificial tree and decoration manufacturer Balsam Hill Founder & CEO Mac Harman told Yahoo! Finance that prices are up around 20% due to costs of shipping from Asia. At Wolcyn Tree Farms & Nursery, in Cambridge, balled and burlapped trees between seven feet and eight feet tall cost $259.99 in the 2020 season while this year, they’re $284.99, according to pricing brochures.
The American Christmas Tree Association’s 11th Annual Christmas Tree NielsenIQ Survey found that about 75% of U.S. households, or about 94 million homes, will have a Christmas tree this year despite supply chain and weather challenges, according to a Dec. 9 news release. Sixteen percent of trees on display are farm-grown while the rest are artificial. The majority of families have found their tree for this season, and about 6.5 million households that have trees will have both kinds this year, which is an increase from last year, the survey said.
Executive Director Jami Warner said in the release that they encourage consumers who have not yet found trees to shop soon and be aware of limited supply.
However, Christmas tree farmer John Beckwith told The Center Square in a phone interview that they held prices relatively steady – within $1 or $2 – from last year at his “choose-and-cut” farm, which serves the local community about 20 miles east of Mankato.
Beckwith checked prices at larger stores in Mankato on Thursday and saw that some stores’ prices seemed to be a bit higher than they were last year. He said the wholesale market for trees is tighter. Prices for lot trees, which often bring in trees from North Carolina or the Northwest, are correspondingly a bit higher.
Beckwith had to sell trees from next year’s lot to meet demand. The supply level of Christmas trees was established about seven to 10 years ago, and the impacts of the drought during this year’s growing season will likewise be seen several years from now, he said.
“There’s a large demand for a small supply … but you have to balance that over the past eight years [of the tree’s life],” he said. “One year of inflation on that is just one eighth of the story from a financial standpoint.”
He said that people who operate farms that serve their local communities tend to just be happy to contribute to families’ Christmas traditions.
Doug Hundley, seasonal spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Foundation, told The Center Square in a phone interview that prices for real trees rise about 7.5% every year. In 1995, the Christmas tree industry created a national oversupply with its tree plantings and subsequently kept prices stagnant for years. The 2008 and 2009 recession reduced demand, making the oversupply worse so growers cut down the supply. The harvest 10 years later therefore decreased. The relatively tight supply has led to increased prices
“We have been planting back trees as vigorously as possible,” Hundley said.
He said the association anticipates that supplies will be close to the level of demand in about two or three years.