By Matthew Lysiak
Christmas tree prices have hit record highs this year in another financial blow to cash-crunched consumers this holiday season, according to industry experts.
The average price of a Christmas tree has surged 10 percent from the past year, with shoppers likely to spend on average between $80 and $100, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).
Joanne Bond, who works at the Maine Christmas Tree Association (MCTA), told The Epoch Times that an across-the-board increase in expenses forced her to raise prices by 10 percent at her Bond Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in West Newfield.
“I’ve been bracing myself for complaints over the prices, but with everything costing more we really had no choice but to go ahead and charge a little more,” said Ms. Bond. “All of my expenses have gone up this year, from supplies to the netting that the trees go in, to the coffee and cider I like to give out to customers.”
Ms. Bond said that in 2021, consumers could cut down any size tree from her lot of Canadian balsams for $50. This year, she was forced to raise the price to $65.
“It’s difficult and I really hate to do it but every single item in my business has gone up with the exception of the candy canes, which, fortunately, still cost $1 a box.”
A manager at New York’s Soho Trees at the corner of Varick and Canal in Manhattan told The Epoch Times that another contributing factor to the rise in prices has been a tree shortage that has devastated retail supplies.
Droughts and Fires
“Simply put, there just aren’t as many trees available,” said the manager, who asked to be referred to only as Russell.
“The droughts in North Carolina have strangled the supply of Fraser firs and then we had fires in Oregon that destroyed large amounts of the Douglas firs. To put it mildly, it’s been a very difficult year for Christmas trees,” he added.
New Yorkers might find it equally difficult on the wallet, too. A Manhattanite looking to bring home a seven- to eight-foot Fraser fir from Soho Trees will have to shell out $279.95. A six- to seven-foot Canadian balsam can be purchased at a more modest cost of $229.95.
The prices do include a plastic stand for the tree, home delivery, and installation.
Russell says he believes that rising costs won’t cramp New Yorkers’ holiday spirit.
“Here in New York, buying a Christmas tree has been a tradition since the 1800s,” he said. “We always hope for a good season.”
“It’s New York. New York loves Christmas,” he added.
Holiday celebrators shouldn’t expect to find relief by opting for artificial trees, which are equally, if not more, cost-prohibitive. Consumers can spend between $85 and $1,000 for their fake tree, according to the ACTA, with the cost varying based on the producer, retailer, size and shape of the tree, and location.
The news of record high tree prices comes as increasing numbers of budget-strapped holiday shoppers are forced to confront inflation in everything from decorations to children’s toys, airfare to see family, and food for holiday meals.
Further, this trend of higher prices is likely to extend beyond the holiday season as soaring inflation continues to exceed wage growth, forcing many Americans to dig deeper for ways to trim their budgets.
Inflation, caused primarily by increased energy costs and a dramatic rise in the money supply, is already forcing Americans to spend $709 more per month on everyday goods and services than they did just two years ago, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
“The high inflation of the past 2+ years has done lots of economic damage,” Mr. Zandi tweeted on Aug. 10.
“Due to the high inflation, the typical household spent $202 more in July than they did a year ago to buy the same goods and services. And they spent $709 more than they did two years ago.”
Inflation has been a notable concern this holiday season for 78 percent of consumers, according to a survey conducted by the ACTA. However, 94 percent of those surveyed said they still will be getting at least one Christmas tree this year.
Holiday revelers have been understanding about the rise in costs and the stress that small business owners are under to keep prices low, according to the MCTA’s Ms. Bond.
“With the way everything is shooting up in price today, people still think they are getting a good deal,” she said.
“It must be the Christmas spirit. We will have to see if it lasts.”