Twinkling pine, spruce, and fir trees loaded with ornaments are an emblematic part of Christmas, but this year, some holiday shoppers are facing higher prices and shortages.

The Christmas tree industry, much like other industries, is grappling with supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures as the United States emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, which, coupled with unusually extreme weather conditions, has led to shortages across the country ahead of Dec. 25.

“This year, I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people either asking about the shortage, asking if we’re sold out, asking [if] we have any of the Fraser fir because they can’t find one anywhere else,” said Matthew Gallery, owner of Almost Heavenly Christmas Trees in Alexandria, Virginia.


Gallery told the Washington Examiner that his primary wholesaler provided him with more than 2,000 trees last year but could only part with about 1,100 this year. To make up for the shortage and purchase more trees, Gallery went to an auction held annually in Pennsylvania in which tens of thousands of trees are offloaded in what is billed as the world’s largest Christmas tree auction. He said prices there were through the roof compared to past years.

“Auction prices were more than double what they were last year,” he said. “At the last minute, I had to raise our retail prices. As I’m out there bidding on these trees at the auction, I’m logged in to our system to do that. So we had to raise our prices significantly.”

One problem affecting supply and prices is a trucker shortage. Chris Spear, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, recently said the industry is now down a record high of about 80,000 drivers.

This year’s extreme weather on the West Coast has not helped the situation. Oregon and Washington, major sources of the country’s Christmas trees, felt the brunt of the record-breaking weather over the summer.

Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, said the combination of factors caused supply to dwindle this holiday season.

“It’s a double whammy — weather and supply chain problems are really hampering the industry,” Warner said. “Growers have been hard hit by floods, fires, smoke, drought, extreme weather conditions.”

Christmas Tree Shortage
Darrell Evans prepares live Christmas trees for sale at Christmas Tree Jamboree in San Francisco on Nov. 19, 2021. Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have reduced supplies of both real and artificial trees this season. American shoppers should expect to have fewer choices and pay up to 30% more for both types this Christmas, industry officials say. (Terry Chea/AP)

Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Florida is also suffering from the Christmas tree shortage. Owner Tony Harris said Christmas tree prices are up about 30% from last year.

Harris and his wife have been selling Christmas trees from their Dade City location for 35 years. During an interview with the Washington Examiner, Harris explained that he “got lucky” and actually secured a glut of trees this year because of his longtime connections in the industry. Despite his store faring better than his competitors with supply, Harris said he has been forced to raise prices.

“The growers are charging more for the trees, the truckers are charging more to get them here, so I have to charge more to my customers that are standing in front of me right now,” he said before pausing the interview to check out a shopper at his store’s cash register.

Despite the higher prices, Harris said shoppers have not been deterred. He said Ergle Christmas Tree Farm has been selling more large trees than in past years and that business has “been jumping” as people hear about Christmas tree shortages in the media and venture out to buy them.


The availability of artificial trees has also been diminished.

John Rosen, an adjunct economics professor at the University of New Haven, pointed out that a high number of artificial Christmas trees are produced in China and must be shipped across the Pacific Ocean and be offloaded at ports on the West Coast.

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach account for roughly 40% of U.S. imports. The two ports drew considerable media coverage over the past few months as dozens of ships sat idly moored because of how backlogged and gummed up the supply chain situation is.

“So if you’re the kind of person who was going to go to your local department store and buy an artificial tree, you’ll find a shortage,” Rosen told the Washington Examiner.


Rosen noted that generally speaking, there is pent-up demand to have a “nice big Christmas with the family, which we couldn’t have last year” because of the pandemic. “People want to have Christmas again.”

With just about three weeks to go, that demand appears to be driving shoppers hoping to scoop up a tree into stores across the country. Gallery, the owner of Almost Heavenly Christmas Trees, said he expects to be sold out of trees sometime in the next week.

“We are seeing customers come out like crazy,” he said.