Washington state facing a Christmas tree shortage

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Washington residents hoping to get into the holiday spirit by selecting a fresh Christmas tree should plan on doing so sooner rather than later this year, and also expect to pay more for it than usual.

A number of factors are involved in the shortage and corresponding price hike, including an intense heat wave over the summer that damaged the pine trees and supply chain issues that are delaying deliveries.

Andy Smith, who operates Holman Road Trees in Seattle, told KOMO News that the cost of getting a semi delivery from central Washington has increased 36% over last year.

Smith said that trees that sold for between $19.95 and $29.95 last year are now priced from between $24.95 and $39.95.

Elsewhere in the state, KREM-TV2 in Spokane reports that some tree farms have already closed for the season due to lack of inventory.

One farmer told the station that warm, dry summers and a lack of moisture in the soil means that seedlings he has planted over the past few years failed to survive. He also said he plans to move away from Christmas trees and instead use his farm to grow pumpkins.

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, buyers can expect to pay up to 30% more for a live three compared to last year. The ACTA also says the average price for a live tree is $78, compared to $104 for an artificial one, although artificial trees provide a cost savings over time as they are reused for 10 years on average.

“Every year, we pay close attention to factors impacting the Christmas tree industry so that we can help guide consumers in choosing the right Christmas tree,” ACTA Executive Director Jami Warner said in a news release. “In 2021, we’re seeing a variety of factors influencing artificial and live Christmas tree supply across the country and are encouraging consumers to find their tree early this year to avoid shortage impacts.”

Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Association, says his industry is down about 80,000 drivers compared to before the coronavirus pandemic, which is helping to drive up Christmas tree prices, the Washington Examiner reported.

Shipping issues have also impacted the availability of artificial trees, most of which are made in China. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach have drawn considerable media coverage recently has a huge number of cargo ships sit off the coast of California waiting to unload.

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