Due to persistent interruptions in the worldwide supply chain, the artificial Christmas tree sector is encountering issues this holiday season. Artificial trees, like many other decorations and gifts, are frequently imported from China, so port congestion and shipping delays are affecting supply this year. As a result, experts are advising Americans to get their fake trees as soon as possible in order to ensure delivery in time for the holidays.
This Year, Are You Getting A Real Christmas Tree?
What about actual Christmas trees, on the other hand? Year after year, rumours of shortages surface, but would this be the case in 2021? And how does climate change, as well as existing supply chain difficulties, affect our capacity to bring one of those green centrepieces into our homes? Industry experts offer their predictions for the Christmas tree season in 2021.
What’s the deal with all the talk about natural tree shortages?
Every year it seems like there are stories or news clips about tree lots selling out, causing concerns about natural tree shortages during the holiday season. However, there may be some misunderstandings at work. “In the United States, we’ve never run out of Christmas trees,” Tim O’Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, stated. “However, the availability of trees has become scarce. Growers had previously planted too many trees, and there were insufficient purchasers to acquire them all, resulting in a terrible period in the sector, during which everyone was selling their trees at a loss.” Due to the Great Recession, many farmers scaled back their operations and began planting fewer trees, so holiday customers aren’t seeing the surpluses of the 1990s and 2000s. Because it takes an average of seven to ten years to develop a tree, we’ve been feeling the consequences in recent holiday seasons, according to O’Connor.
Certain tree lots may sell out faster due to less excess inventory, but buyers should still be able to find trees in other places. “When we hear about Christmas tree shortages, it’s less about a lack of trees than it is about your tree not coming from the location and type you desire,” said James Farmer, an associate professor at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “For example, Fraser firs are a popular species, but they’re not native to most regions,” he explained. “As a result, they’re difficult to produce and must be hauled across the United States from places with the correct climate.” Demand for real trees increased in 2020, according to Farmer and O’Connor, as people were cooped up at home during the epidemic holiday season and seeking to spread a little Christmas cheer. “Most Christmas tree farms here in Indiana sold out in like two weekends,” Farmer recalls, noting that U-cut versions were especially popular. “People were longing for these experiences, being outside on a large farm with little social interaction. We spoke with 25 farmers, and all but two had sold their land.” On the wholesale side, demand has risen as well, but supply remains constrained.
“Many wholesale tree purchasers want more than they did previously, but they’re having problems finding them,” O’Connor said. “Part of what supports the recent shortage reports is that tree producers have already sold them or are committed to customers with a history.” In previous years, by the time it got to mid- to late December, most folks who wanted a tree had one. However, there would still be a few hundred trees available in tree lots. Last year, that amount was drastically decreased, and nearly every tree on the market was snapped up.” What impact does climate change have on supply? While the simplest explanation for decreasing supply in the Christmas tree industry is a decline in general planting, another major aspect that comes up in these discussions is climate change. Droughts and rising temperatures might reduce the number of trees that can be planted on a farm. “We had a big drought here in the Midwest about nine years ago, and a lot of trees died, so many U-cut tree farms have missing stock from that time period,” Farmer added. “This summer, Christmas tree farms in the Pacific Northwest were all over the headlines.
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