It's an interesting time for the Christmas tree industry right now: there are fewer Christmas trees being grown than 10 to 15 years ago, but more people are buying them. And they are paying a higher price to boot.
According the National Christmas Tree Association, two major tree producing states, North Carolina and Oregon, have fewer trees to offer this year than in previous years. However, there is no need to panic: despite the scarcity, there are still enough trees to get around.
"We don't think there will be any problem," Doug Hundley, a seasonal spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association, told CNN. "Everyone who wants a real tree will get one."
In fact, says Hundley, the shortage was completely anticipated and is the result of farmers planting fewer trees 10 years ago in the middle of the Great Recession.
Today's trees were planted years ago
Unlike most manufactured products and even most crops, there is a long delay between when Christmas trees are planted and when they are ready to be sold. This means that the trees you see now are actually a product of the economy in which they were grown years ago.
"Fifteen years ago, we had too many trees available for demand. In 2008 and 2009, we had the recession, which reduced sales and worsened," says Hundley. "When tree growers can't cut them, they don't have room to plant anymore."
The rest is simple math: it takes eight to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree. Thus, yesterday's finest planting seasons created today's finest crops.
Demand is rising
However, the demand for Christmas trees in the US is far from behind.
Last year, It is estimated that 32.8 million Christmas trees are sold nationwide.. This is a record for NCTA calculations. Also a record: the average price of a Christmas tree, which rose to $ 78. Hundley says that this increase in demand and the public's willingness to pay the higher dollar, may be because more millennials are having children and they want to share the whole freshly cut Christmas tree experience with their growing families.
As for cost, this is simply the economy of supply and demand.
"We definitely don't miss products," says Hundley. "What we have is a tighter supply than 10 or 15 years ago."
Burden may be shared between producers
The details of the Christmas tree industry are really quite fascinating. There is not just one type of Christmas tree; there are balms and pines and firs and the like, and each region has its own preference. There is no type of tree that is the most popular.
"People choose a variety of trees based on family traditions," says Hundley. For example, people in the Great Lakes prefer their native pines and fir trees. In the west, the region offers a variety of firs, such as the noble. The most popular tree in the southeast is the Fraser spruce, which grows in the mountains in the Smokies and Blue Ridge. The Christmas tree industry in North Carolina produces about 4 million of these trees each year alone.
So when these farms were hit with a reduced crop, Hundley says other states were able to step in and offset the difference to meet demand.
"When plantations in North Carolina and Oregon fell significantly, there were many Fraser spruces growing in Michigan and Wisconsin and even Canada so they could catch time off and send trees," he explains.
While the NCTA says Christmas trees are grown in all statesHundley says there are about 8 to 10 states that produce a significant amount of these trees and 8 to 10 states that do not grow much. Therefore, moving trees is not an uncommon concept.
"In this industry, we are really good at distributing Christmas trees from one place to another," he says.
So while it is certainly dramatic, in a way, Charlie Brown, to imagine a shortage of eligible firs across the country, do not fear. If your area is low on Christmas trees, they can always be shipped from the next state.