PORTLAND, Ore. – If you believe the headlines this year, there’s a shortage of Christmas trees. The real ones, I mean. I actually talked with a grower here in Oregon, and he confirmed that yes, there are fewer trees to go around. But no, you’re not likely to show up at your local tree lot or U-Cut farm and be turned away for lack of trees. You’ll probably pay around 10% more than you did last year, and those kinds of price increases may last for a while.
In general, the number of Christmas Tree farms in Oregon has fallen pretty sharply in the past decade. More lucrative crops like hazelnuts are taking their place, or the farm land is being developed to make way for more people. In addition, the recession led to fewer people buying real trees, and fewer trees being planted. Since it takes 7-10 years to grow a tree big enough to end up in your living room, we’re now seeing the results of that reduced inventory. My contact called this ‘supply coming in line with demand’, rather than a true shortage. Fewer trees will be exported, but no one is likely to find themselves going without.
But if we’re likely to see steady price increases at the tree lot in coming years, I wonder if more people might be willing to settle for a fake tree. Prices on those have actually gone down, and they look more realistic now than ever before. They’re also generally regarded to be safer, and less likely to introduce pests and mess into your home. Of course Christmas is, for many, a time of traditions, and I’m guessing a lot of you will fork over the extra cash, or pick your tree up a little earlier, in order to have the real thing.
So what say you? Are you going to grin and bear the added cost of the real thing, or buck tradition and finally get a tree you can store in a box in the closet outside of the holiday months?