Not to be a Grinch, but your Christmas tree may cost a little more this year.
The average live Christmas tree price is expected to top $80 this year, according to industry experts who say the 2008 economic recession is largely to blame for a smaller supply of available trees.
According to an annual study commissioned by the National Christmas Tree Association, the Christmas tree industry’s official trade organization, the average cost of a live evergreen tree increased last year to $78, or $3 more than the year before.
Though a $3 price increase may not sound like much, the average cost of a live Christmas tree about doubled over the previous four years, according to the study’s past findings, with the average tree in 2014 costing $39.50.
This year’s average tree price has yet to be calculated, but NCTA spokesperson Doug Hundley said he expects the cost to again be about 4% more than last year.
“That would be a good guess. I wouldn’t expect it to be more than that,” he told HuffPost.
Across the country, consumers have already reported finding fewer tree options and higher than usual prices ― with some trees reportedly selling for at least $20 more than last year.
Difficult growing conditions ― including wildfires, drought and excessive rainfall ― have led to fewer trees being available and some growers going out of business, including in parts of Oregon, California, Indiana and West Virginia. But the smaller supply is also linked to the 2008 economic recession, Hundley said.
During that time, fewer people were buying trees, which meant fewer were being cut down and fewer new trees planted in their place. Because it takes seven to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree, we are seeing the effects of this now, he said.
“We have less trees to harvest than we did 10 years ago but that is a good thing. That means we are selling most of the trees that are harvestable. We do not have an oversupply,” he said. “It’s pretty ugly when you get an oversupply. We pretty much had one for several years.”
Back when the economy was tanking, pre-cut trees were simply thrown away and those that weren’t cut down grew to sizes that most people don’t want, Hundley said.
“A lot of those are just being in the way in the field and stop us from replanting,” he said.
Despite there being fewer trees available today, Hundley stressed that there is no tree shortage and that anyone wanting a tree should be able to find one.
“We don’t call it a shortage; we call it a tight supply,” he said.