(WHTM) — There is nothing quite like finding the perfect Christmas tree for the holidays. However, this year, there are questions about whether there will be enough trees to go around.
The good news is people should still be able to find a tree, but it just might not be exactly the one they imagined. The supply of Christmas trees is smaller than usual, a problem one seller started more than a decade ago.
Still, the Christmas tradition of searching for the perfect tree persists.
“Families have traditions and they usually have a certain day or a certain week they come out,” Dave Hogentogler of Hoagy’s Lawn Care Service.
Hogentogler and his son sell Christmas trees, but some lots are looking a little thin.
“We got between 25 and 30 percent less than what we requested,” he explained.
Hogentogler said these supply issues started back in 2008 during the recession.
“Christmas tree growers at that time didn’t plant as many trees just because of cost,” he said.
The effects have started hitting the industry in the last several years, as those trees get ready to be harvested.
“An 8-foot tree takes about 10, 12 even 14 years,” Hogentogler explained.
The number of Christmas tree growers is also shrinking, further straining supply.
“Christmas tree farms are generally family businesses, and as one generation passes on, the next isn’t necessarily willing to take on that kind of commitment to grow trees,” Hogentogler said.
Added to that are supply chain issues with artificial trees brought on by the pandemic. Those supply chain issues and more families staying at home due to COVID have caused a spike in demand for real trees over the last few years.
“The artificial trees were sitting in containers out in the ocean and never made it here,” Hogentogler said. “Two years of COVID, we saw Christmas tree sales increase.”
Supply is just not keeping up. Still, not everyone would call it a shortage.
“There is a real tree out there for you,” said Aaron Grau, executive director of the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Grau acknowledged inventory is smaller for several reasons.
“There has been drought in certain areas of Pennsylvania,” he said.
Inflation has also taken a major toll.
“The price of labor, the price of fertilizer, the price of tools and materials has all gone up,” Grau said.
Hogentogler said the price of fertilizer jumped by over 30 percent this year.
The message to consumers is to come early and be flexible.
“They will always be able to get a real Christmas tree, but it might not be the real Christmas tree they wanted,” Grau said.
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Another reminder for consumers is they will see the effects of inflation as well. Tree prices will be higher when buying.