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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ninety-five million American homes will display a Christmas tree, but those who prefer a real tree may find a shortage as Christmas approaches.
“I believe there will be a shortage later on, getting closer to Christmas,” Bob Simmons, co-owner of Simmons Farm, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
Simmons is talking about the most popular Christmas tree, the Fraser fir, which 90 percent of his customers buy. But this year, this tree is in short supply.
“I was actually shorted about a thousand trees this year. I normally sell about 2,500 trees, and I only got 1,500,” he said.
And that tight supply is having an impact on the price you pay.
“We raised our price about eight percent because my supplier raised my price by about eight percent,” he said.
Simmons says the best growing area for Fraser firs is in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
So why the shortage?
Blame the recession of 2008-2009 when there were too many trees and not enough buyers.
“There was a glut of Fraser firs, and all the growers down there kind of did the same thing. They stopped planting — or slowed down planting. Didn’t plant as many. Now that’s showing up as a shortage,” says Simmons.
Because it can take up to 10 years to grow a Fraser fir, the impact is just beginning to be felt at the marketplace.
So here’s the bad news.
This Fraser fir shortage won’t be over soon.
Suppliers are saying it could be three or four years more, and then the trees planted after the recession will be ready to be sold to you at Christmas time.
So what’s the price now?
KDKA found trees ranging from $50 to over $200, depending on the size.
A thousand trees short, Simmons is heading up to Canada to try to find more, but he says don’t wait too long to buy.
“It’s going to be pretty slim pickings,” he said.