Will there be a Christmas tree shortage? Why buying a real tree might be harder and cost more this year

Rising costs and red tape could make it more difficult to buy a real Christmas tree

A retailer has warned of a potential shortage of Christmas trees this year.

And even if consumers manage to get their hands on one - they can expect to have to dig deep to pay for it due to rising costs.

Among the reasons cited by ChristmasTrees.co.uk  for the possible shortage of real trees are soaring raw material prices, new import regulations making importing trees into the UK harder, and a challenging labour market.

According to The British Christmas Tree Growers Association, between 8 and 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year.

It is estimated the UK usually imports between 1 million and 3 million of those Christmas trees each year from countries elsewhere in Europe.

This year wholesale prices have increased by 5% and 10% for Christmas trees which can take around 10 years to grow.

What is causing the challenges?

Mark Rofe who owns the online Christmas tree retailer Christmastrees.co.uk said “We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges.

“They are seeing an increase in demand for their product, especially from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red-tape that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a highly seasonal and time sensitive business.”

Commenting on the labour market Mr Rofe said “Our main grower supplies the market with 100,000 Christmas trees each year and employs between 50 and 70 workers during the peak of the season.

In previous years they were reliant on foresters, mostly from Eastern Europe who would come over for the harvest and then would return to their home country afterwards, but since the Brexit transition they just aren’t able to come over to work now.

They have found it a real challenge to cover their workforce with local labour.”

Mark Rofe.Mark Rofe.
Mark Rofe.

Rising prices for materials

When it comes to raw materials for maintaining, harvesting, and transporting Christmas trees  growers have seen the following increases.

  • Labour up 10% 
  • Fertiliser up 100%
  • Wood for pallet uprights up 100%
  • Pallets up 50%
  • Labels up 15%
  • Netting up15%
  • Transport up between 20% and 60%

Haulage costs have increased, however there are also concerns about the ability to actually obtain lorries.

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