By Millie Hurst
With fewer than 100 days until Christmas Day (yes, really), Christmas tree retailers are seeing an uptick in searches on their websites already. Some companies are warning of a potential shortage of real trees this year, caused by a perfect storm of import issues, increased costs and a shortage of lorries.
Maybe it's time to learn how to grow your own Christmas tree to safeguard our Christmases of the future...
First of all, new regulations have made importing trees into the UK more tricky. This is likely to spark a shortage in UK-grown trees.
According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, between 8 and 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK every year. Of those millions of trees, it's estimated that between 1 and 3 million are imported from other countries in Europe.
'We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges,' comments Mark Rofe, owner of online Christmas tree retailer Christmastrees.co.uk.
'They are seeing an increase in demand for their product. Especially from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red-tape that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a highly seasonal and time-sensitive business.'
A second factor impacting the supply of firs, pines and spruces is that it's now harder than ever to find the necessary labour for caring for and harvesting the trees. This is due to the Brexit transition making it hard for foresters from Eastern Europe to come over to work.
Then, you have the cost of raw materials, which has also rocketed, according to Christmastrees.co.uk. The company reports that things like wood for pallets, labour, fertilizer, labels and transport are increasing in price. The cost labour is up 10% and that of fertilizer and wood for pallet uprights is up 100%.
There's no doubt that getting hold of a real Christmas tree is going to be harder this festive season. And, unfortunately, you can expect to be paying more than in previous years as wholesale prices have increased between 5% and 10% this year.
Hopefully it won't come to that, but the best Christmas plants will bring festive cheer in the absence of a real tree.
Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express points to the mild winters in Scandinavian countries, Covid restrictions from last year and the shortage of lorry drivers as factors too. 'A Christmas tree is an essential part of the festivities, not just on Christmas Day but in the run up - picking the tree, squeezing it into the car and decorating ahead of the celebrations' says Chris.
'This year it’ll mean even more after the locked down restrictions of last year,' he says. We couldn't agree more. Getting your order in early or considering an alternative option for your tree are both wise moves this Yuletide.
Millie joined Gardeningetc in January 2021 as a news writer. When she isn't writing about gardening, she's tending to her small front garden. Her geraniums, dahlias and nasturtiums are looking lovely right now. She recently bought a bench for the garden and is loving alfresco lunch breaks and taking time to notice seedlings growing. She loves picking up some new plants at the local garden centre and is never without some fresh flowers at home.
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