MERIDIAN - Have you bought your Christmas tree yet? If not, you should probably get on it because they're going fast!
But just a heads up: you'll likely have to pay more than you did last year and you might not find exactly what you're looking for. Why? Because America is facing a Christmas tree shortage.
Customers likely won't physically see the shortage in trees at any local lots right now, but they will see it reflected in the price tag. It can take up to 10 years to grow a tree, so we can blame the Great Recession for that.
"We love doing Christmas trees. Everybody is in a good mood doing this," Jordan's Holiday Sales owner, Jordan Risch, said.
They are a staple of the holiday season.
"A traditional Christmas tree is gonna be a fir: so it is your Nobles, your Nordmanns, your Grands, Doug firs, all the firs," Chinden Zamzows store manager, Christopher Owings, said.
But unlike Christmas spirit, those firs are in short supply at tree farms, with the shortage spanning across the nation for a couple of reasons.
"The Recession did have a big part in it. A lot of people didn't plant during that recession so they are stunted back a few years," Owings said.
Also, most trees we can buy at lots here locally come from Oregon.
"Oregon has gone through a drought these past five years, so instead of getting a foot of growth a year they're only getting six inches of growth a year. So that has set them back quite a few years," Owings added. "The trees are great. We've had zero issues health-wise with the trees, just mainly the size."
Basic economics are at play.
"You're looking at nine-to-ten-foot Noble right there. So that's probably gonna be around 95 bucks - give or take," Risch said as he showed us a tree on the lot.
Two years ago, it probably would have sold for around $70-75, he says.
Retailers say wholesalers had to up their prices and there's now less trees per farm.
"The higher the demand, the lower the supply, the higher the prices are gonna go," Risch added. "If we pay more we have to be able to pass that on and try to still maintain a business."
Risch says he couldn't find the smaller three-to-five footers this year; farmers are keeping them growing longer, in anticipation of a continuous shortage. But Zamzows says they struggled finding the larger ones.
"A lot of my customers want nine-to-ten-foot or ten-, 12-foot trees. Even and those were nearly impossible to find," Owings said.
He says Zamzows has raised their prices by about 20 percent this season because the price of trees is so much higher, but the business has maintained the same profit margin. For example, a six-to-seven-foot Noble fir is going for $84.99. They run for a little less at Jordan's Holiday Sales.
Zamzows and Jordan's Holiday Sales both stocked up on more trees than ever this year.
"This is the most trees we've ever carried. We brought in four semis, which is 2,200 trees," Owings told KTVB. "We knew. We basically knew it was going to be a tougher year to find trees, so we brought more in."
"You won't see a shortage; you come in and see hundreds of trees but this year they're moving fast," Risch added.
Risch says there's also shortage of retailers here locally this year.
"The shortage of retailers is partially due to the fact that you get those increased prices. They can't operate on those smaller margins when they have a smaller inventory," he added.
Experts say if you wait much longer to get your Christmas tree, you may not get what you're looking for. But don't let that make you Grinchy, or allow it to dampen your spirit.
"I would [get] it immediately. Don't wait," Owings advised.
You can get a permit for $10 per tree in national forests in our area (Boise, Payette, Sawtooth), but you're not going to find your traditional Christmas tree, and may look like a Charlie Brown tree.
"The firs just don't grow well here. So we can do a pine or a spruce but that's not your traditional Christmas tree. It's not gonna have that perfect pyramid shape," Owings said. "It'll be a very thin, sparse tree. It's not gonna be a perfect Christmas tree, but that's OK to some people."
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