No Christmas tree shortage, but with supply tight, shop early

In a season of traditions, with Thanksgiving completed, and many looking to buy a farm-grown Christmas tree, rumors of a tree shortage have become an annual thing.

Jill Sidebottom, spokeswoman for the National Christmas Tree Association, told WTOP to not panic — there’s plenty of trees for everyone.

“We don’t have an oversupply of real Christmas trees, certainly, but there is enough to meet consumer demands,” Sidebottom said in an email. “We have heard reports that some people wanting to buy Christmas trees wholesale to sell at tree lots or as fundraisers are having issues finding trees.”

Sidebottom said for a Christmas tree grower — a tractor trailer holds around 600 trees — so if their customer only needs a few hundred, they will have to split the load with other retailers, making shipment difficult and costly.

“Since most can sell their trees to larger retailers, the smaller retailer has found it harder to find what they want,” she said.

Supplies of real farm-grown trees have been tight since 2016, but each year shoppers have been able to find a tree, Sidebottom said.

Finding your Christmas tree in 2023

Assuming you’ll be looking for a tree or two for your home, the NCTA offers some tips and a tree locator.

If you absolutely want to have the exact same variety of Christmas tree you’ve had when you were a child, you’ll want to shop early for the best selection, according to the NCTA.

With supplies being tight, seeking a particular variety may require a trip to a second location, according to the industry group.

Choose-and-cut Christmas trees are open in the D.C. region. Some in the area found their trees on the day after Thanksgiving.

Being flexible can help avoid making numerous trips to find a specific tree: “There are many beautiful variety of Christmas trees, there will be one that is just right for you and your family,” according to the industry group.

Sidebottom said supply is expected to increase in coming years.

“We know that Christmas tree growers are planting more trees to meet what will hopefully be a larger demand in the future, but trees take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to reach harvest size. So it takes a while to build up that increased inventory,” she said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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