This Year's Christmas Tree Demand Is Covid-Related, But Supply Issues Date Back to 2008 Recession

click to enlarge Christmas tree demand is expected to be high again this year, with supplies being low - Fotos_PDX/FlickrCC
Christmas tree demand is expected to be high again this year, with supplies being low

So this is Christmas?

Retailers are urging shoppers to check their Christmas shopping lists twice as early due to supply chain disruptions, due, in part, to a so-called "worker shortage" (ahem, the fair wage revolution) and the United States Postal Service and other shipping services have been citing delivery delays that are expected to impact the holidays. We can't help but wonder: did Christmas lose the war on Christmas?

Well, this latest shortage might indicate that, yes, the most wonderful time of the year is about to get a little less jolly.

In Michigan, which is the third-highest producer of Christmas trees in the U.S., tree growers are warning of what can only be described as the Grinch's wet dream: a Christmas tree shortage.

While it was severe weather that impacted growers in the Pacific Northwest this year, that is not the case in Michigan, where growers are citing the Great Recession that has been a leading factor as to why Michigan's tree numbers are low in 2021, as it takes anywhere from 6-10 years to grow trees to a marketable height and, apparently, when there's a housing crisis most people (aside from predatory mortgage lenders) aren't able to think about presents, carols, or Christmas trees.

Many tree farms closed up shop in 2008 and in the following years, with no new farms replacing them immediately.

As a result, Christmas trees are shockingly spruce, er, we mean scarce this year — and the scarcity might cause, you guessed it, a possible price surge.

Some tree farms are most concerned about the number of 10-12 foot trees available, which they say are going to be among the hardest to find this year.
Not to be a total buzzkill but there are reports that artificial trees may also be hard to come by as a result of the supply and shipping delays.

"In 2021, we’re seeing a variety of trends influencing artificial and live Christmas tree supply across the country, and are encouraging consumers to find their tree early this year to avoid shortage impacts," Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association said on the organization's website. "If I can give one piece of advice to consumers right now, it is to find and buy your Christmas tree early."

Last year, the demand for live trees was so high, doubling from years previous, due to, you know, the fact that we were stuck in our homes, that many local tree farms ran out of their stock weeks before the holiday. So, shop early and be prepared to drop some extra green on evergreens.

“Right now, about 60 percent of the trees are already reserved. The big trees, the ones over 8 feet are the ones that are going to be extremely difficult to find,” one Missouri tree farm told a local TV station.

“I suspect Thanksgiving weekend, that’ll be it,” another said in the segment.

While the weather has been fine east of the Mississippi, the ramped-up demand, early buying, and Recession-tied scarcity could mean Ohioans could still find it harder than usual to score a spruce.

Anyway, let's not get so bummed out that we forget the true reason for the season: The Pogues.

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