Quebec Christmas tree growers predict record sales year

Christmas decorations are also flying off the shelves, as shoppers start trimming the tree early this year.

Christmas decorations also flying off the shelves, as shoppers start trimming the tree early

Michel Gravel is a co-owner of Sapinière Saint-Jean. Like Quebec's apple producers, he expects a good year of sales for local Christmas tree farmers, considering many people are eager to get out of the house and bring a little nature back with them. (Radio-Canada)

With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.

Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season.

"People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.

Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. 

Many people are tempted to get out of the house and head into nature for a Christmas tree this year. (Marie Maude Pontbriand/Radio-Canada)

"The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.

Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.

While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.

Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.

Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.

She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public.

"Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.

François Gendron is the manager of a Canac hardware store in Quebec City. (Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc/Radio-Canada)

When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal.

"People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.

Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November.

"We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."

He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays.

"They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.

With files from Radio-Canada's Camille Simard and Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc