Christmas tree shortage hits San Diego

Wholesale prices expected to rise 5-10%
Posted at 6:59 AM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 11:14:40-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - You may want to add "Christmas Tree" to your black Friday shopping list this year. The National Christmas Tree Association says they expect a shortage.

"It's simple supply and demand," says Doug Hundley, with the NCTA. He blames the recession in 2007 for today's shortage.

"It takes Christmas tree growers about 10 years to grow a 7-8 foot Christmas tree," he says. "Christmas tree sales were down (in 2007)  and so were the prices.  Christmas tree growers did not have the room, normally available from harvesting nor did they have the revenue to plant as many trees as they would have if sales had been different.  The result, 10 years later, is today's smaller supply."

The NCTA also says prices from wholesalers are up 5-10%, but they don't know if local nurseries will pass that along to consumers. It's likely that prices on tree lots will increase as supply dwindles.

In San Diego, nurseries say their supply is fine right now, but they can't be sure about future shipments.

"We used to have trees the 10th, 12th, 15th of December. Now you come in that time, we're basically out," says John Swanson at Armstrong Garden Centers.

Swanson says people should buy their tree as soon as possible.

"As long as you put it in warm water when you get home, use a tree preservative and keep it away from heat like a vent or fireplace, it should stay green until Christmas," says Swanson.

That's good news for Said Marouf and his family. They bought a tree before Thanksgiving this year.

"It's a big deal for us," says Marouf. He says his entire family would be disappointed if they didn't get a real tree this year.

A scientific 10News/SurveyUSA poll found that 33% of San Diegans plan to buy a real tree this year, while 36% plan on getting an artificial tree. 2% say they're going to buy both. The rest either weren't sure or didn't plan to get one.

Meanwhile, when asked about the price increase, 61% of the people who wanted to buy a real tree say they still plan to do so.

The NCTA says their members are working to plant more so the shortage only lasts a few years. It just takes time.

"We can't manufacture trees," says Hundley. "Real Christmas trees are hand planted and harvested on small farms, and 100% of real Christmas trees are grown in North America.We do not expect the tight market to last more than a couple more years and artificial trees are never the solution."