As wallets recover from Thanksgiving groceries, another holiday staple is set to break budgets. The price of Christmas trees is up, and Colorado families are prepared to downsize their traditions.
According to the American Christmas Tree Association, the average price of a tree is up 10%. An average-sized tree will cost between $80 and $100. An ACTA survey shows that despite cost concerns, 94% of Americans plan to display at least one tree this holiday.
The turkey has barely settled, but Chamone Jones spent Cyber Monday tree shopping at Nick's Garden Center in Aurora with her husband and daughter Eden.
"We're trying to get the most out of it! We want more than 30 days of all that hard work put into decorating," laughed Jones. "Shopping is going well so far."
Nearly 77% of Americans say they'll opt for an artificial tree. The unmistakable pine scent that's known to fill a home is what keeps many people splurging for the live variety.
"I appreciate the beauty and it's a real conversation starter in your home," said Jones. "We're looking for a smaller tree this year because they are kind of expensive. Usually, we get a pretty big tree."
The weekend after Thanksgiving, Nick's Garden Center sold 400 trees.
Richard Ortega, co-owner of Nick's Garden Center, says their trees have gone up 5 to 10%. He expects the increase to impact sales slightly, but they still expect to sell 2,500 trees before Christmas.
"The market is pretty competitive. The bigger trees have gone up, especially the 10-footers and up because there's a severe shortage of those. You're going to be paying more if you can even find them," said Ortega. "They're just not coming to market yet. Fewer trees were planted several years ago."
It takes six to eight years for farms to grow Christmas trees. Ortega says most trees come from four states: Oregon, Washington, Michigan, and North Carolina. The farther away, the more customers will pay.
"Fuel, fertilizer, labor. Those are all up. It's definitely factored into the prices," said Ortega.
In addition to community efforts like food drives, Ortega says Nick's offers "shop local" special events to make prices more affordable. He says many buyers are still attracted to the environmental impact of a live tree.
"Real trees are sustainable. They grow on a tree farm, so when one's cut down another one's planted in the same place. And at the end of the season, you can mulch it for using in the garden," explained Ortega.
Jones says her family is able to save on Christmas decorations by shopping at discount stores and scoring deals in the days following the previous year's holiday. They'd rather opt for a smaller tree than switch to artificial.
"It was a thing that my grandfather always used to do. Growing up, I always had a real tree. It was a natural freshness in the home. I've just never liked fake trees!" said Jones's husband.
If you're willing to put in the effort, cutting down your own tree is significantly cheaper than buying one in-store. In Colorado, a permit to cut one down is between $10 and $20.
Christmas tree permits can be purchased from your local Bureau of Land Management office: https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/forests-and-woodlands/forest-product-permits/colorado-christmas-trees
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