LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — The Christmas music has begun and Black Friday marks the official kickoff to all things “merry." It’s no surprise that the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for people buying real Christmas trees. This year, a nationwide tree shortage has some people worried they might not be able to get the real thing.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, a Christmas tree takes about 10 years to grow. 10 years ago, the U.S. recession began which meant that Christmas tree growers didn’t have much room available so they didn't have the money to plant large crops. Now, the result is fewer trees and higher costs.
As Christmas tree farms struggle to meet demand with the national tree shortage, Central Arkansas’ Motley’s Tree Farm and Pumpkin Patch is doing just fine.
“We are actually not short and we have plenty of trees,” said Randy Motley, owner of the farm.
He said he was able to beat the national shortage by planning ahead.
“After 35 years in the business, I can tell you Christmas tree supply and demand is kind of a rollercoaster,” he said.
After speaking with one of his tree suppliers in North Carolina, he learned there would likely be a shortage this year. So, he planted 2,400 trees on his farm in advance. He also took quick action to get the popular Fraser Fir trees from North Carolina.
“Due to the shortage, some farms have sold out, but luckily we had our orders in early so it didn't affect us,” he said.
Even with his quick thinking, he still had to deal with price increases from the low supply and high demand. Some increases have been unavoidable, but not everything is seeing an uptick. The Leyland Cypress tree is the most popular on his farm and is not seeing much of a price increase.
“It’s really the Fraser Fir, the most popular tree in America, seeing price increases,” he said.
While in some states, the shortage of Fraser Firs has meant a 10% price increase, it has only meant a few dollar difference at Motley’s. This small increase in price doesn’t seem to make a difference to their customers. For Jamie Parker, her focus is more on what fits her family needs.
“The cost doesn't matter,” said Parker. “Whatever would fit our needs better is the one we're going to go with.”
The Parrish family also said that a few dollars difference isn’t a big deal for them. They were more concerned with finding something that was the best size and that shed the least needles.
Mr. Motley says that, while their farm is full of trees this year, real tree sales are on the upswing compared to artificial tree sales. His recommendation is for people to come out sooner than later to find the perfect tree for their families.