We’re still a month away from Halloween but already it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Experts and local business owners warn that a perfect storm of bad weather and supply chain issues will make it harder (and more expensive) to find a tree this year — real or artificial. 

Harold DeLucia at his tree supplier in West Jefferson, North Caroline. Photo: NYC Trees

In Oregon, the country’s largest grower of Christmas trees, the ongoing drought and heatwaves have decimated the state’s Christmas tree crop. One grower, Marc Wonser of Wonser Woods Estate, told the Oregonian he’s lost around 90% of his yield this year, including saplings and young trees — which will impact availability for years to come.

“Almost all Fraser firs sold in the Northeast come from North Carolina and Quebec,” explained Harold DeLucia, of NYC Trees and Tyler’s Trees on 10th Avenue between W44/45th Street. “We get ours from North Carolina. The shortage stems from the last recession about a decade ago when farmers were selling fewer trees so, therefore, planted fewer trees — and now we’ve been in a tree shortage for the past couple of years but it’s worse this year. We are experiencing a 30% decrease in trees this year, we are urging people to order their trees as early as October 15 when our website is activated for the season, as trees will be sold out by early December.” DeLucia expects the tree shortage will last another two to three years. Tyler’s Trees will open on November 19.

Hell’s Kitchen at Christmas. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Meanwhile, artificial trees and other home decor items (wreaths, garlands, etc) are likely to see their prices increase by double-digit percentages, according to CNN. The global supply chain shortage has seen retailers suffer months of disruption in shipping, due to a combination of port congestion, factory shutdowns, and other pressures. 

“We’ll have to raise prices. For trees, it’ll be on average about 20% higher,” said Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill in California, a company that sells about $200 million of artificial trees and holiday decor each year. “Even then it won’t cover our own costs, because we’re paying as much as 300% more per shipping container this year.”

Matt Fox (right) and partner Enrique Crame III in 2018 getting ready for the holidays. Photo: Fine & Dandy

“Shortages are a real thing this year,” Matt Fox from Fine and Dandy on W49th Street told us. “I just put in a re-order for the fragrance collection, Imaginary Authors, that’s been a top-seller for us since we first started selling it four years ago. I heard back from the owner that the most popular scent, Bull’s Blood, currently isn’t available because they haven’t been able to source one of the components. Last month when we ordered our packaging for the holidays, we learned that the tie boxes we normally order won’t be available until well into next year.”

Despite all the supply issues, the market is also expecting demand to be up about 25% from last year, so make a plan to get your holiday shopping done as early as you can. This extends to gifts as well, as Delphinium Home’s John Soroka reminded us. “We’re experiencing shortages just like everyone else,” he said. “The motto is: ‘If you see the perfect gift for someone, BUY IT NOW!’ There are no last-minute orders I can place this year, because there simply isn’t the stock at companies themselves. We are receiving around 60% of the merchandise in every order we place and once it’s gone, it’s GONE!  We’ll do the best we can, but I think everyone needs to be aware and open-minded until things get better next year.”

If you are looking for some early ideas — and want to buy local — check out Michael Muñoz’s W42ST 2020 Gift Guide.

Christmas ornaments at Delphinium Home.

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