Christmas Trees, Both Real and Fake, Costing Up to 30 Percent More This Year

American shoppers can expect to pay 30 percent more for their Christmas tree this year, as weather and supply problems have driven up the prices of both real and fake trees, the Associated Press reported.

Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, an industry trade group, said extreme weather has hit tree growers hard. "It's a double whammy—weather and supply chain problems are really hampering the industry," she said. "Growers have been hard hit by floods, fires, smoke, drought, extreme weather conditions."

Record-breaking heat and wildfires in Oregon and Washington, the country's biggest tree-growing states, have had an impact. Warner could not provide an estimate on how many fewer trees there will be this year because they take up to 10 years to grow. Additionally, a shortage of truck drivers is making the trees' transport more difficult and expensive to facilitate.

On the artificial tree side, clogged ports and a lack of truck drivers are delaying shipments and raising prices. Caroline Tuan, Balsam Hill's chief operating officer, told the AP the company's trees are about 20 percent more expensive this year and have less variety.

"We have to bring our products over from our factories [in China], and that has been very challenging," Tuan said. "All of that has impacted us, which means that we have fewer trees to sell as an industry." Warner's advice: "Shop early. If you see something you like, buy it."

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Christmas trees, tree farm
Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have led to shortages and higher prices for both real and artificial Christmas trees this year. Above, a man shops for a tree at Crystal River Christmas Trees in Alameda, California, on November 26. Terry Chea/AP Photo

At Crystal River Christmas Trees in Alameda, California, owner Dale Pine and his nephew Stacy Valenzuela struggled to get enough trees to sell at their tree lot in Alameda. Many of its suppliers in Oregon lost trees in the triple-digit heat wave.

"It was looking pretty grim for a while," Valenzuela said. "Every single day you're on the phone checking, 'Hey, you got anything? If you do, send it my way.' So a lot of work to get these trees on the ground this year."

Crystal River had to raise prices this year because the costs of trees, labor and truck delivery have all gone up, Valenzuela said.

Alameda resident Ian Steplowski came to Crystal River lot to buy a Silvertip tree with his wife and two young kids the day after Thanksgiving.

"We're having shortages of everything and of course it had to take Christmas trees," Steplowski said. "Definitely noticing everything's a bit more expensive this year already."

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 to shop at the Burlington, California, showroom of Balsam Hill, which primarily sells its artificial trees online.

"I came in early because I heard in the news that there's not going to be enough fresh Christmas trees," said Schaffert, who lives in nearby San Mateo. Her husband isn't happy about the change. "What else can we do? I have to get ready for the future because I love Christmas. I love to decorate."

Worries about drought and drought led David Cruise and his wife to the Balsam Hill showroom to buy 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 sooner everybody gets on board with the artificial tree, the sooner everybody's going to enjoy it."

Christmas trees, Balsam Hill
David Cruise discusses artificial Christmas trees with a salesperson at the Balsam Hill showroom in Burlingame, California, on November 19. Terry Chea/AP Photo