Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Families, if they already haven’t done so, will be seeking a new seasonal decoration for their living room — the pine-scented, memory-evoking Christmas tree, soon to be decked in twinkling lights, glistening tinsel and bulbous ornaments.
And those trees will be slightly more expensive, as consumers will have a smaller selection to pick from and should expect to pay between 10% and 30% more, according to the Associated Press.
Several incidents have affected tree production, including global supply chain issues and recent West Coast fires, said Rob Lambert, owner of Seasonal Adventures Pumpkin Patch and Trees in northwest Las Vegas. Lambert said the farmer he buys from in Oregon lost many trees to the state’s historic 2020 wildfires, which burned over 1.2 million acres.
This loss primarily affects larger companies like Home Depot or Costco because of the volume of trees they buy, Lambert said. Smaller businesses like his will be able to hit their target or slightly below.
“Us in particular, I think we’ll have all the numbers that we want,” he said. “But for a while, I think the numbers will be less (for the larger chains) because there will be fewer trees.”
Many shoppers on the West Coast wind up with a tree harvested in Oregon, which is the nation’s top producer of Christmas trees, according to the Sacramento Bee. But the extreme weather of floods and wildfires has limited the supply and increased the cost.
“I think there will be a Christmas tree for everyone who wants a Christmas tree, but there are less of them on the market,” Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association.
As for artificial trees, shipments are delayed across the country because of the ongoing supply chain issues. Warner told the Associated Press that retailers were indicating they had 43% of their inventory remaining, when it’s typically 70% at this time of the year.
Lambert said live trees are planted as seedlings and grow naturally about 3 feet per year. Farmers trim the trees so they only progress approximately 1 foot per year instead, giving the Christmas trees their distinct look and height. As a result, 6-to-7-foot-long trees — the industry average size — have been growing for six to seven years.
Tree sellers in the Las Vegas area mostly draw their stock from Western states like Oregon and Utah for Douglas and noble firs.
“When the fires hit and destroy a bunch of farmland, that puts us back a few years,” said Matthew Fichera, regional manager of Moon Valley Nurseries. “You can’t just create time. … You can’t just grow these things overnight.”
Tree prices are also up at Moon Valley, though only a few dollars, Fichera said. Depending on the size and growth time, trees can be as little as $79 or as much as $1,500, he said. He said that subsequent holidays may not be as hectic because of the planning workers are putting in now.
“We’re planning for future Christmases,” he said. “There’s product we’ll plant right now for 15 years down the line.”
For Seasonal Adventures, a 6-to-7-foot tree costs $114.99 when last year it was $109.99, Lambert said. “This year is the top of hill,” Lambert said. “Next year there will be more trees, and as it turns around, prices may start coming down.”
When customers enter Moon Valley, they can tag the tree they want, Fichera said. Moon Valley has also done phone orders and delivery, though he said he expects people enjoy the in-person search and sensory experience of buying a tree.
“Just that smell brings you back every year,” Fichera said.