Prince Edward Island Christmas trees lots are stocked and open for business, but sales aren't what they used to be.

Staff at one Christmas tree lot in Charlottetown, that opened last Wednesday, say the season is off to a slow start.

"We've probably sold a hundred [trees]. It's a little slow," Dave Gallant said Thursday. "Maybe it's just a little early for some people."


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He said people may be more in the mood to buy a tree once it snows.

But according to Statistics Canada, more people are buying artificial trees rather than the real thing. Revenue to Canadian Christmas tree growers dropped 12 per cent over the past decade.

Jamie Lewis, store manager at Home Hardware in Charlottetown, said sales of artificial trees in his store has grown by about 50 per cent over the past 10 years.

"A lot of people that maybe have condos or have moved into a retirement condo, always had a real tree, but went to an artificial tree to make it fit," he said.

"A lot of people put them up early. You can put them up as early as you like. You don't have to water it, maintain it, there's no fire hazard like with a real tree."

But for Michelle Redmond, who beat the rush and bought her tree Thursday, there's nothing like the real thing.

"Absolutely gorgeous," she said of her purchase.

Prince Edward Island exported about 80,000 trees to the United States last year. Demand from the U.S. is down this year because of the high Canadian dollar and the weak U.S. economy.