Labor shortages raise Christmas tree prices; consumers willing to spend the extra dough

Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 9:38 PM CST
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Hernando, Miss. (WMC) - The Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge and Black Friday shopping has come and gone.

Now it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, but there are some challenges this year for folks to get a real tree in their living room.Whether it’s for downtown tree lightings or being the centerpiece in your living room this holiday season, Christmas trees are in short supply.

“This year, the prices have gone way up on certain shipped-in trees because of a shortage of labor for people at the tree farm to cut down, haul and also the shipping. Shipping is very expensive this year,” said Robert Foster, President of Cedar Hill Farm.

Foster knows this from personal experience.

This year, he’s shipped-in Fraser Firs from North Carolina to give customers variety on what to choose from.

The trees that already grow on his property, which are priced by the foot, are also increasing in price, but it’s not necessarily the tree.

It’s the labor that goes into the growing process.

“The biggest number one input into Christmas trees is manual labor: the planting, pruning, the staking, the cutting, the hauling it up here, the shaking it, and tying it onto the car. It’s all manual labor to tend that tree to get it to a sellable height,” Foster said. “There’s not a lot of people in our younger generations that are wanting to do physical labor.”

Nevertheless, Foster’s team continues to roll out all the stops every year for customers, who Foster says are paying the extra amount.

Cedar Hill Farm even has a new light show this year for visitors.

Mark and Anna Reed started coming to Cedar Hill a few years ago.

“This has kind of become a Christmas tradition for our family,” Mark said.

The Reeds say the outing provides more than just a tree but an experience for their family.

“The kids love it because there’s places for them to play, and they love to choose the tree,” Anna said. “It’s fun because we get a unique tree, like it looks different than any other tree that you’re going to get. It’s different every year. And also when you buy a tree from here, you’re investing in something local. That’s really nice too, being able to invest in a family business.”

There’s also the issue of tree farmers retiring, with the next generation not wanting to take the reins.

“We need to get some more young people into growing and farming and, in general, in agriculture, all different aspects of it,” Foster said.

To keep a Christmas tradition alive and growing, just like the trees.

Of course, the steady rate of inflation is also hitting the pockets of consumers this holiday season, but the numbers from the Federal Reserve show consumers continue to spend for holiday periods like Thanksgiving and now Christmas.

Putting up the extra money to put a tree in your home seems to be something Mid-Southerners are on board with.

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