Christmas trees to see price hike due to shortage

Leanne Suter Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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There is an overall shortage of Christmas trees this holiday season, and that is likely to boost prices.

SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There is an overall shortage of Christmas trees this holiday season, and that is likely to boost prices and limit choices.

The shortage is in part due to the Great Recession, when farmers cut back plantings nearly a decade ago. Also playing a part - the California drought that ended earlier this year.

So what does this mean? Shoppers beware - a major Christmas tree shortage could have you saying "Bah! Humbug!"

"We've seen it coming for years. The banks just wouldn't lend any of the farmers money in the years following the recession, so we knew the trees weren't in the ground," said Mark Rohlfs, owner of Santa & Sons Christmas Trees in Sherman Oaks

It takes approximately eight years for the average size Christmas tree to make it to market. With fewer trees planted, there's fewer choices for customers - especially in the 6-to-9 foot range.

Also adding to the challenge - most trees sold in California come from Oregon, where Rohlfs has his farm. Rohlfs says since the recession, there's 40 percent fewer Christmas tree farmers in Oregon.

The shortage also means a surge in prices.

"Some of the other tree lots that buy their trees wholesale are seeing increasing wholesale prices of 10, 15, 20 percent," Rohlfs said.

Rohlfs said that some lots may not even open, because there simply aren't enough trees to go around.

So if you're counting on a real tree for the holidays, be warned - your search may take longer and cost you more.

"People are going to definitely have to search a little more, that I know, and prices are going to go up incrementally. That's almost certain," Rohlfs said.

Noble fir, the most popular type of Christmas tree, has taken the biggest hit. Far fewer are available and they are far more expensive.