Christmas tree demand remains high despite inflation

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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — For all the worries about inflation and the economy, Americans aren’t scrimping on a centerpiece of many celebrations this holiday season: the Christmas tree.

Retailers from Home Depot and Lowes to mom and pop operations raised their prices on trees — but people are still buying them. Christmas tree growers worried about external factors like high fuel, fertilizer, and labor costs. However, they discovered that holiday greenery is almost inflation-proof despite the fact that Americans have cut back on their retail spending.

The average Christmas tree purchased from South Portland Rotary Club’s Christmas trees is $70, $5 more than last year.

A survey by 55 the nation’s largest Christmas tree wholesalers found that almost all of them intend to increase prices. However, most wholesale costs rises in the 5% to 15% range, with some increases reaching 21% and more, according the Real Christmas Tree Board, Howell, Michigan which conducts research and marketing for the industry.

A second survey found 85% that people believe Christmas trees are worthwhile despite rising prices. This suggests that a tree, whether artificial or real, is still a necessary part of holiday traditions, along with ugly sweaters, cards, carols, and Christmas toys.

Like all traditions, the types and market conditions of each tree can vary.

An estimated 21million live Christmas trees will be sold at the end of December, according to Jill Sidebottom, National Christmas Tree Association. This is a strong performance compared to last year’s, Sidebottom said. “It wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree,” said Susan Adams of South Portland. This year, she is settling for a smaller tree — at the same price as last year’s larger tree.

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Follow David Sharp on Twitter @David–Sharp–AP

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