Financial crisis leads to shortage of Christmas trees, rising prices

Global Business

The holiday season is upon us. For many that means decorating the Christmas tree. This year that ritual has gotten a lot more expensive for Americans and the global financial crisis is partly to blame. CGTN America’s Karina Huber reports

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony marks the beginning of the holiday season in New York City.

Another marker is the arrival of the independent Christmas tree vendors who set up shop on the city’s streets for about a month to sell firs, spruces and pines.

The Fraser fir is known as the Mercedes of Christmas trees.

It’s also the most expensive on the market. This vendor is selling it for $20 a foot for an average of $100 dollars a tree. That’s roughly 20 percent higher than last year. Prices have been increasing steadily but have jumped dramatically in recent years. The financial crisis is partly to blame.

In 2008, U.S. consumer spending hit the brakes. Growers responded by cutting down fewer trees leaving less space to plant new ones. Almost ten years later, there’s a shortage. As a result, prices are rising. At the same time, people are leaving the tree farming business. Oregon, the country’s top state for tree exports had 699 licensed growers in 2010. Now it has just over half that amount. That puts further pressure on supply.

“You go to Canada and you see old people like 75 – they have the farms. Nobody of the youths like to do this anymore,” said the vendor.

Despite the elevated prices, U.S. consumers seem willing to spend the money.

“Sure. Why not? It’s Christmas. Holiday, family, good times,” said one man.

“It’s Christmas. You should be good in Christmas. It shouldn’t really matter the price. It’s about setting up a tree. Being happy. Being good. Enjoying the holidays. Enjoying your family,” said another.

The shortage of Christmas trees in the U.S. is not expected to be a one year phenomenon. Experts say it could last until 2025. That means Americans will have to pay a little more green for their holiday cheer for many Christmases to come.