Late-season shoppers may have a hard time finding a Christmas tree this year. Because of shipping delays and shortages, both live and artificial trees are expected to cost more and sell out sooner.
Tessa Wigglesworth is the store manager at Parkrose Hardware in Hazel Dell. Artificial tree sales over Thanksgiving weekend went as expected, she said. But the demand for trees isn’t the problem. With shipping delays, Parkrose Hardware and other stores aren’t getting their regular holiday shipments.
“We didn’t get everything we were supposed to get,” said Wigglesworth. “We definitely don’t have as many trees as we’ve had in years past.”
Parkrose Hardware isn’t alone; Craft Warehouse in east Vancouver also has yet to receive its expected order of artificial trees.
“The large trees — we don’t have a lot,” said Bruce Reed, store manager at Craft Warehouse. “Our shipments have not been arriving timely.”
But John Mack, marketing director for the Craft Warehouse stores, said the dearth of large Christmas trees isn’t a huge loss for the company. The stores specialize in smaller, table-top trees, which are fully stocked. Craft Warehouse’s biggest supply chain issue has been a shortage of Christmas lights and battery-operated candles, Mack said.
It’s a definite possibility that Wigglesworth’s store will run out of artificial trees before the holiday season’s end, she said.
“We do typically sell most of what we have before the season’s up, so being short is a little bit unfortunate,” she said.
Supply isn’t the only issue surrounding the holiday staple. Everything is a bit more expensive this year, and artificial trees are no exception, Wigglesworth said, though she hasn’t heard any complaints from shoppers.
Because of supply delays, labor shortages and extreme weather this summer, the American Christmas Tree Association expects the price of both live and artificial trees to increase this year. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the price for live trees has nearly doubled since 2015. National retailers have reported that artificial Christmas trees will cost 20 percent to 30 percent more than they did last year.
Mack expects the price for Craft Warehouse’s artificial trees to increase more next year in line with the stores’ increased costs.
Tree lot sales up
“It was beautiful weather, and sales are better than expected so far,” said David Bloom, referring to the Thanksgiving weekend Christmas tree sales for Vancouver’s Scout troops. Bloom is the district volunteer for the Scouts’ Christmas tree recycling program, as well as a volunteer for several area troops.
The Scouts operate two Christmas tree lots in Vancouver: one at Chase Bank at 200 N.E. 78th St., and the other at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church, 12217 N.E. Highway 99.
The troops at both lots are so far selling ahead of schedule. The trees, which are all sourced from KLM Farm in Rochester and Noble Mountain Farm in Salem, Oregon, cost the Scouts slightly more this year. But shipping wasn’t a problem, because the troops pick up the trees themselves.
Last year, the Scouts’ Christmas tree sales at the 78th St. lot were down because of the pandemic, and it didn’t sell all of its supply. So this year, that lot has fewer trees.
Bloom said a number of people visited the Scouts’ lots over Thanksgiving weekend, saying they wanted to ensure they got their trees before the supply was gone.
“If you want to make sure you get the kind of tree you want to get, people should be out there by this Sunday,” said Bloom.
Because of the summer’s extreme heat, grand fir trees aren’t available. But the troops are selling noble firs, Nordmann firs and Douglas firs.
Wigglesworth recommends that shoppers get their artificial trees sooner, too.
“If people want to be able to choose, I would definitely say it’s best to buy them sooner rather than later,” she said.
This article was updated to accurately state Bloom’s title, the source of the trees and the lot that ordered fewer trees this year.