ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – Even Christmas trees are not immune to the pandemic-induced shortages and inflation plaguing the economy.
Extreme weather conditions and supply chain disruptions have reduced the supply of real and artificial trees this season. U.S. buyers should expect to have less choice and pay up to 30% more for both types this Christmas, industry officials said.
“It’s a double whammy – weather and supply chain issues are really hampering the industry,” said Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, an industry trade group. “Producers have been hit hard by floods, fires, smoke, drought and extreme weather conditions. “
Record heat and wildfires in late June wreaked havoc on Christmas tree farms in Oregon and Washington, two of the nation’s largest growers. Warner could not provide an estimate of how many trees are missing this year, but since it takes up to 10 years to grow, crop loss will be felt for many seasons to come.
The shortage of truck drivers makes it more difficult and more expensive to transport live trees from farms to stores and tree lots.
Warner’s tip: “Buy early. If you see something you like, buy it.
At Crystal River Christmas Trees, owner Dale Pine and his nephew Stacy Valenzuela struggled to get enough trees to sell on their tree lot in Alameda. Many of its Oregon suppliers lost trees in the triple-digit heat wave.
“It looked pretty dark for a while,” Valenzuela said. “Every day you’re on the phone to check, ‘Hey, do you have something? If you do, send it to me. So a lot of work to get those trees in the field this year.
Crystal River has had to raise prices this year because costs for trees, labor, and truck delivery have all increased, Valenzuela said.
Ian Steplowski, a resident of Alameda, came to the Crystal River lot to purchase a Silvertip tree with his wife and two young children the day after Thanksgiving.
“We run out of everything and of course it took Christmas trees,” Steplowski said. “I notice that everything is already a little more expensive this year. “
Teri Schaffert heard about the shortage of real trees this year, so she decided to buy an artificial tree for the first time. Almost a week before Thanksgiving, she went shopping at the Burlington Showroom in Balsam Hill, which primarily sells its artificial trees online.
“I got there early because I heard on the news that there wouldn’t be enough fresh Christmas trees,” said Schaffert, who lives in the nearby town of San Mateo. Her husband is not happy with the change. “What else can we do? I have to prepare for the future because I love Christmas. I love to decorate.
But the artificial tree industry is grappling with its own supply issues as clogged ports and a lack of truckers delay shipments and increase costs, said Caroline Tuan, chief operating officer of Balsam Hill. The company’s trees are around 20% more expensive this year and there is less variety.
“We have to bring our products from our factories (in China), and it has been very difficult,” Tuan said. “All of this has had an impact on us, which means we have fewer trees to sell as an industry. “
Concerns about drought and drought led David Cruise and his wife to the Balsam Hill Showroom to purchase their first artificial tree this year.
“In the grand scheme of climate change here in California, this is really the way to go,” said Cruise, who lives in Brentwood. “The faster everyone gets on the artificial tree, the faster everyone will benefit.