Tyler Lipke, the operator of Silverbells Christmas Tree lot along Highway 1 at Vallemar in Pacifica said he is short on trees for the season.
“Right now we have all organic trees. The average size is six to seven feet because that’s what most people want to fit in their living room,” he said. “The price increased this year, and there is a shortage of trees. Prices went up $20 to $30 from last year,” he said. “People are buying them. They are flying out of here,” Lipke said.
He said the reasons for the shortfall of trees are the drought and the wildfires in Oregon and Washington where the trees are grown.
“Normally, we would have double the amount of trees to sell, but we have half,” he said.
Silverbells Christmas Trees has been running the lot for the last 10 years. It is owned by the same family that owns Arata’s Pumpkin Farm south of Half Moon Bay.
“Better get them while we have them. We had 400 trees this year. Normally we would have 1,000. We do expect to sell out,” Lipke said.
National media confirms Lipke’s assessment of the Christmas tree shortage this year.
The American Christmas Tree Association, a group that represents live tree growers, told the Washington Post that this year’s supply of real Christmas trees will be limited due to heat in the Pacific Northwest. Prices for live trees will be 5 to 10 percent higher than last year, following a trend of the past several years.
The Canadian Christmas Tree Association says demand has been rising over the past five years and there’s a potential for a shortage due to extreme weather events.
The Pacific Northwest is the largest producer of live trees with 5 million cut annually, accounting for 25 percent of the national supply. The region’s stock is down 10 percent due to the summer’s heat and drought. Baby trees suffered the most damage. Noble firs experienced the most burn damage from the heat. It takes them a long time to grow into mature trees.
National Public Radio reports that, in Vermont, there is high demand amid a nationwide Christmas tree shortage and record high prices. Last year demand spiked with more people staying home during the pandemic, meaning fewer mature trees in the fields this year. One Christmas tree lot owner would have bought a couple thousand, but couldn’t find any because they were all sold out.
A wholesaler sold all his trees to a New York vendor instead of the local Vermont businesses because the New Yorker was offering a much higher price. Prices are higher due to the higher cost of doing business, for example, the need to increase wages to attract seasonal workers.
Artificial trees aren’t easy to find either. The manufacturing time has doubled since before the pandemic and delivery has increased from three weeks to eight weeks for artificial trees. The industry faces shipping challenges and labor problems. Since the pandemic, the supply chain crunch includes higher shipping costs and backlogs at ports for artificial trees, most imported from China, according to The Economist.