In the pandemic era, we have grown used to dealing with supply chain issues, including shortages. And Christmas trees are no exception.
This means that unlike most years — when the best bargains are to be found in the days right before Dec. 25 (unless you can wait until after Christmas, that is) — you will need to act fast if you plan to buy an artificial Christmas tree this year.
In fact, Rudi Leuschner, an associate professor of supply chain management at Rutgers Business School, tells Consumer Reports you should buy your artificial tree “as early as possible” and expect to wait to get it.
CR notes that many major chains — such as Ace Hardware and Target — may have trees available a week or so after Halloween. If you want to wait until then to shop, grab a tree as soon as you see it.
However, it might make more sense to buy your tree online sooner. According to CR:
“If you’re shopping for an artificial Christmas tree online, sites like Balsam Hill and Treetopia report that they have well-stocked inventories, but supplies are sure to dwindle as the season goes on. So, if you want an artificial tree to put the gifts under this year, the time to start shopping is now.”
When you find the perfect tree, get ready for a little sticker shock. Jami Warner, the executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, a trade association for the artificial tree industry, tells CR that prices for artificial Christmas trees could be up to 26% higher than last year in some places.
Brian Chee, the director of portfolio business at Christmas tree retailer Treetopia, tells CR that higher shipping costs will translate into prices that are 15% higher at his retailer. Like Leuschner, he urges consumers to buy early, noting that prices likely will be lower then.
If all of this leaves you discouraged, here is a little holiday cheer: You can save a bundle by purchasing a real tree this Christmas.
Most real Christmas trees sold to American consumers are grown in the U.S., making them immune to the current supply chain issues. Venky Shankar, the director of research at the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, tells CR:
“Real Christmas trees cost much less than artificial Christmas trees, and their prices are not likely to rise by more than 5 percent.”
Of course, artificial trees generally are cheaper in the long run because you can reuse them year after year.
For more ways to save on your holiday flora, check out “9 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Christmas Tree.”