Higher demand for Christmas trees than available, recession takes toll

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Christmas tree shortage could have effects on shoppers in the Lowcountry, bringing the possibility of live trees going out of stock early.

"I would encourage them to go to their retail location they've been visiting the last few years, or maybe it's a new location they're going to and get there earlier than usually because there's a good possibility their inventory may run out over the next couple weeks," Mitchell Poe, the Owner and Operator Cardinal Tree Farm in North Carolina said.

"We would hate for sooner to be left without a Christmas tree because they didn't get there on time," said Poe.

Poe said there's a possibility that some places will set out of sell out of trees early.

"I know that every tree framer I speak with, we're all in the same boat as far as inventory," Poe said.

The limited supply comes as a result of the 2008 recession, after tree farmers were taking advantage of the higher demand in the early 2000's.

"The Christmas tree industry was booming and planters were planting more trees than the normally had been planting," Poe said.

Poe said the recession took a toll on the farmers, so in the years following the recession not as many trees were able to be planted.

"When farmers cut down on planting it takes about seven to eight years to become market size, so now we're in that phase where we're seeing the supply greater than the demand because of the recession in 08," said Poe.

Fast forward to 2017, the supply isn't as plentiful as it's been in years past.

"I think it got to the point that most farmers in the last month and half, two months it almost got to a first come first serve basis," Poe said.

"We may run out on our retail end because some of the normal retailers in the Charleston area may not have even been able to purchase trees, or if they have their supply may have been cut back," Poe said. "We're expecting to pick up some of those overflow so to speak from retailers that maybe didn't have a supply so there is a possibility we will run out early."

Poe said for the next few years the demand could overtake the supply. He also said in 2011 Cardinal Tree Farm planted more trees with the thought of this lower supply coming on. Poe said in three to five years, the farm should be back in the more normal range.

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