Demand for Christmas Trees Booms as Gloomy Year of COVID-19 Needs Some Jollying

The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association said Canadians planning to buy a fresh Christmas tree this season should start now and be prepared to pay more.

Farmers anticipate 2020 will be a record sales year. Association head Larry Downey says it’s simple supply and demand: a shortage of trees coupled with a greater appetite from people hoping to liven up their living spaces thanks to widespread stay-at-home orders.

“Personally, we don’t see COVID affecting us,” said Downey, whose family farm in Hatley, Que., sells up to 30,000 Christmas trees each year.

Most of the wholesale farmers Downey spoke to this year had hit sales records, with most of the demand coming from vendors in the United States. Retailers usually place their orders as early as June, Downey said.

Downey said Christmas trees are retailing for about $5 more this year, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for several years.

The average price of a tree rose 123 percent to $78 US in 2018 from $35 US in 2013, according to the U.S. National Christmas Tree Association.

Prices are also rising in Canada

Stephane Bernier, who runs Plantation Bernier in Lac-Brome, Quebec and Bronwyn Harper, who co-owns Hillcrest Farm near Ottawa, said they have raised the prices of Christmas trees this year.

Likewise, in Sudbury, where an annual charitable fundraiser sold 100 Christmas trees within an hour of opening.

Some varieties like Fraser Fir, which are prized for their pleasant aroma and good conifer retention, are even more sought after.

Harper said she was selling the first Fraser Fir trees for around $85 – $20 more than last year – after her supplier raised prices.

However, while demand for pine is expected to increase sharply, the pandemic has created unique challenges for tree sellers.

Mostly, physical distance requirements force farms to remove additional attractions such as wagon games and campfires.

Harper says her biggest challenge this year has been developing social stretch guides for tree cutters. For example, the owner of the ranch will not allow people to bring dogs, nor will they allow them to ride sleds or horse-drawn wagons.

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