Supply chain woes and weather leading to Christmas tree shortage

INDIANA – Supply chain woes coupled with climate change are leading to a shortage of both real and artificial Christmas trees this year. Quantities will be fewer and prices will be higher than usual.

“The demand this year is going to be extremely strong and so I think from a consumer perspective people definitely shouldn’t wait,” explained Chris Butler, CEO of National Tree Company, a top importer and wholesaler of artificial Christmas trees and holiday decorations. “Consumers should buy now because, by the time we get to Thanksgiving, which is a peak week for us, I think there’s going to be a lot of empty shelves. We’re seeing pretty strong growth right now already versus last year and so, I do think that we’re in for a big, big season this year,” he added.

He says the days of $25 live trees are gone; expect to pay $50 or more for a nice 6-foot tree and close to $100 in more expensive metro areas.

“Christmas tree growers also have shipping issues as well because they can’t find trucks to take the trees that they do have to market,” Warner explained when asked about potential tree shortages.

What’s more, while Christmas trees are farmed across the nation, the majority of America’s trees are from Oregon and Washington and have taken the brunt of extreme weather events.

“Floods, heatwaves, wildfires, and smoke from the fires has really, really hampered growers in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest,” Warner said.

Sure, artificial trees are an option, but prices are up 20 percent – supplies are thin due to bottlenecks at California shipping ports.

Jami Warner, the executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association explained that ongoing supply chain disruptions have particularly affected artificial trees, which are mostly imported from Asia and take longer than usual to get to the U.S.

“The quantities this year will be fewer than usual and of course the consumer will have to take the brunt of higher prices. They won’t be hugely higher but they will be higher,” she added.