Tennessee Valley seeing impacts of national Christmas tree shortage

Athens

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time for millions across the country to start putting up their Christmas trees. We hate to be the Grinches that share this news, but it may be a little more difficult to do that this year, even for those living right here in the Tennessee Valley.

A nationwide shortage has made Christmas trees harder to get and more expensive to buy.

Last year saw a surge in Christmas tree purchases, leading farmers all over the country to oversell a supply that takes anywhere from four to 10 years to grow. Combine that with a year of unpredictable weather for cultivating and the supply shrinks.

“I would say this year we’re probably only going to sell about 30-40% of our sales from the farm itself, the rest of the trees will be coming from the trees in Wisconsin,” Trim-A-Tree manager Sam George said.

The Athens-based tree farm is used to bringing in at least some non-Alabama-native trees every year to pad their stock, but George says ongoing supply chain issues mean getting the trees here this year comes at a price.

“Our cost has gone up through the roof,” George said. “One of the major price increases is coming from labor and the shipping. Obviously, with fuel prices our shipping has gone through the roof and then also the fact that everybody’s really having to pay a lot more to get the labor. There’s a major labor shortage right now.”

He said they’re doing what they can to keep costs down for customers, and they’re grateful to be one of the farms that are actually getting their full order filled, even if it is more expensive.

“We’re trying to keep our price increase under 20% because we know that a lot of other outlets are having to go up 30, 40, 50%,” he said.

Even with that 20% hike, George said the farm will still end the season with a loss, but he added Trim-A-Tree isn’t always about profit, especially during a year like this one.

“We want everybody to have an affordable Christmas and obviously one of the major things with Christmas is a Christmas tree so we’re trying to keep it where everybody can have access to one,” he told News 19.

He expects this Black Friday, their opening day for the season, to kick off an even busier time than last year. Even then, they sold all of their stock in just about a single week.

Trim-A-Tree is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m on Sunday.

For more information on the tree farm, click here.

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