The best time to buy a Christmas tree this year is now

Irina Wellhawk /

In the age of the pandemic, we are used to dealing with supply chain issues, including shortages. And Christmas trees are no exception.

This means that unlike most years — when the best deals are found in the days leading up to December 25 (unless you can wait until after Christmas, that is) — you’ll need to act fast if you’re planning on buying an artificial Christmas tree this year.

In fact, Rudi Lochner, associate professor of supply chain management at Rutgers School of Business, told Consumer Reports that you should buy your artificial tree “as soon as possible” and expect to wait to get it.

CR notes that many major chains — such as Ace Hardware and Target — may have trees available a week or so after Halloween. If you want to wait until then to shop, take a tree as soon as you see it.

However, it may be best to purchase your tree online sooner. According to CR:

“If you’ve been shopping for an artificial Christmas tree online, sites like Balsam Hill and Tritopia report having well stocked stocks, but supplies are sure to dwindle as the season goes on. So, if you want an artificial tree that puts gifts under this year, now is the time. to start shopping.

When you find the perfect tree, get ready for a little sticker shock. Jamie Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, a trade association for the artificial tree industry, tells CR that prices for artificial Christmas trees could be up to 26% higher than last year in some places.

Brian Chee, director of portfolio business at Christmas tree retailer Treetopia, tells CR that the higher shipping costs will translate into 15% higher prices at his retailer. Like Leuschner, he urges consumers to buy early, noting that prices are likely to be lower at that time.

If all of that leaves you frustrated, here’s a little holiday cheer: You can save a bundle by buying a real tree this Christmas.

Most real Christmas trees sold to American consumers are grown in the United States, making them immune to current supply chain problems. Venky Shankar, director of research in the Center for Retail Studies at Texas A&M University’s Mays School of Business, tells CR:

“Real Christmas trees cost much less than artificial Christmas trees, and their prices are unlikely to rise more than 5 percent.”

Of course, artificial trees are generally cheaper in the long run because you can reuse them year after year.

For more ways to save on your holiday plants, check out “9 Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Christmas Tree.”

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