Pandemic may be boosting Christmas tree sales

The National Christmas Tree Association attributes the likely increased interest in Christmas trees this year to the pandemic. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/JackF)

The Christmas tree industry won’t know how well live trees sold this year until the end of the holiday season when the counting is done, but there are signs that it could be a big year for live tree sales.

The National Christmas Tree Association reports its members have seen a significant increase in the number of tree shoppers who have come out earlier than usual to buy a tree.

It attributes the likely increased interest in Christmas trees this year to the pandemic. And for two reasons: families are looking to add some cheer to the homes they are holed up in, and going out to pick a tree is a pretty safe pandemic family outing.

“With cabin fever and people being in the house a lot, people have been going to agri-tourism sites the whole summer (such as pumpkin patches and orchards). Going out to pick out a real Christmas tree at a choose-and-cut, or frankly any retail location because all real trees are sold outdoors, is a chance to get out,” Doug Hundley, at the National Christmas Tree Association, told WTOP.

The industry doesn’t report on live tree prices until after the season tally is done, but prices are up an average of 7% from last year, according to estimates from Bloomberg News. The average live tree will cost about $81, Bloomberg reports.

Live trees take more work than artificial trees, but more time at home means that’s less of a concern for buyers.

“We think since people are staying at home, they have the opportunity to take care of a real tree this year, and seem to know that. There has been a lot of talk about people going back to real trees this year,” Hundley said.

Bloomberg estimates Americans will spend more than $2 billion in live Christmas trees this year.

It takes an average of six years in the field for a six-foot Christmas tree to grow. A fresh tree handled well by the retailer and properly-cared for at home can last four to five weeks. Ninety-eight percent of fresh Christmas trees are grown as sustainable crops on tree farms.

The Christmas Tree Association has tips for choosing and caring for live trees on its website.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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