Christmas tree supply crunch looms as demand expected to spike amid pandemic
'There are lots that are just not opening because they can't get a Fraser fir'
Some Calgary garden centres say supply is down and demand is way up this year for Christmas trees — so they're warning people not to wait too long to pick one up.
The average tree takes 10 to 12 years to grow. But the 2008 recession caused farmers to plant fewer trees for a few years, which has now resulted in a shortage.
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Colin Atter, who owns Plantation Garden Centre in Calgary, says the shortage has affected his supply of Fraser firs — considered by many to be the Cadillac of Christmas trees.
"The No. 1 question on my chat groups with other garden centres is where can I get a Fraser fir, and that goes all the way down to the U.S. And there are lots that are just not opening because they can't get a Fraser fir," he said.
Atter said he expects more people will be decorating this year because they're not able to go away.
His advice is to buy a tree early and leave it outside until you are ready to set it up.
Linda Pieper is the retail manager at Blue Grass Nursery just north of Calgary city limits, near CrossIron Mills. She said a variety of factors have made this a different kind of year.
"This is a COVID year, so people are spending more time at home … people are looking for signs of life," Pieper said. "It's like gardening, it just makes you feel good."
Most lots open up in the next few weeks, and a huge demand and short supply means customers can also expect to see higher prices at the till.
With files from Colleen Underwood.