Efforts by the promotion board to talk up live trees may also have helped. A 2020 report by a consultant found that along with economic growth, a board marketing program probably had a “substantial impact” on a rise in demand for cut Christmas trees from 2016 to 2019. The campaign casts selecting a live tree as a fun way to create family memories. The slogan: “It’s Christmas. Get Real.”
Christmas trees are grown across the country, but production is concentrated in North Carolina, Oregon, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.
Ms. Gray said shoppers would be wise to buy their live tree by mid-December rather than waiting until the days just before the holiday, when supplies may dwindle. “Don’t wait until Dec. 19,” she said.
Buyers may also end up with a different size or species of tree from what they chose in the past. “Be flexible,” Ms. Gray said.
Prices vary by geography and the size of the tree. The median price for a live cut tree in 2019 was about $77, according to association survey data. It’s hard to say what the typical price is now, but “prices aren’t going to go down,” Ms. Gray said. If prices are steep at one retailer, she advised, “shop around.”
Harold DeLucia, owner of NYC Trees, said he had been able to get just 70 percent of his supply of Fraser firs, a popular holiday tree, from his supplier in North Carolina. He got the remaining 30 percent from other suppliers offering balsam firs. He has allotted the Frasers to his online customers, he said, and will sell mostly balsams at a lot in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. (Prices start at $139 for a package including a four-foot tree, delivered and installed, with a stand and a tree skirt; the walk-up price is $70 for just the tree.)
Shoppers considering fake trees may find that bargains are scarce as well. Retail prices for artificial trees may be as much as 25 percent higher than last year because of supply chain disruptions, said Mac Harman, chief executive of Balsam Brands, a seller of high-end artificial trees, and of the American Christmas Tree Association, a nonprofit trade group focused on artificial trees.