By The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Consumers on the hunt for a Christmas tree have little to cheer about this year, as prices are through the roof due to a shortage of trees that can be traced back to the 2008 financial crisis.
The Great Recession put thousands of American Christmas tree farmers out of business, resulting in far fewer seedlings being planted. As trees have a maturity cycle of 10 years, the lack of supply is just now beginning to bite, pushing up U.S. demand for Canadian Christmas trees and causing higher prices for consumers across the continent.
The average price of a tree rose 123 per cent to US$78 in 2018 from US$35 in 2013, says the U.S. National Christmas Tree Association. Price growth has also occurred in Canada with sales at Christmas tree farms up by 15 per cent annually for the last five years on average.
Part of the reason was to make up for a decade of stable pricing and rising labour costs, but demand has been growing steadily for the past few years — with a sharp spurt this year — said Stephanie Quinn, who runs the nursery with her husband Phil.
Their top-price Tannenbaums now cost $80 while bargain timber goes for $55, with the price dependent on quality, species and height.