Will there be enough Christmas trees this year?
Christmas tree retailer ChristmasTrees.co.uk warns of a potential shortage of Christmas trees this year.
— new import regulations have made importing trees into the UK more difficult which will likely give rise to a shortage of UK grown trees
— a tricky labour market is also affecting Christmas trees – it is harder than ever to find the labour needed to look after and harvest trees
— Raw material prices have soared – which includes wood for pallets, labour, fertiliser, labels, transport.
According to The British Christmas Tree Growers Association between 8 and 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year.
It is estimated that the UK usually imports between 1 million and 3 million Christmas trees of these each year from countries elsewhere in Europe.
Mark Rofe who owns the online Christmas tree retailer Christmastrees.co.uk said “We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges.
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.”
Commenting on the labour market Mark Rofe said “Our main grower supplies the market with 100,000 Christmas trees each year and employs between 50 and 70 workers during the peak of the season.
In previous years they were reliant on foresters, mostly from Eastern Europe who would come over for the harvest and then would return to their home country afterwards, but since the Brexit transition they just aren’t able to come over to work now.
They have found it a real challenge to cover their workforce with local labour.”
Increase in Cost of Raw Materials
When it comes to raw materials for maintaining, harvesting, and transporting Christmas trees our growers have seen the following increases.
Labour — + 10%
Fertilizer — + 100%
Wood for pallet uprights — increase of 100%
Pallets — increase of 50%
Labels — increase of 15%
Netting — increase of 15%
Transport — increase of between 20% and 60%
Christmas tree stands — increase of 25%
While haulage costs have increased, there’s also a real nervousness about the ability to actually obtain lorries, one supplier said “It’s crazy, haulage is up 20% to 60%, and we don’t even know if we will get them”.
It’s going to be more challenging to get hold of a real Christmas tree this festive season, however if you are able to get one, you can expect to be paying more than you would have in previous years. Wholesale prices have increased between 5% and 10%.
With Christmas trees taking an average of 10 years to grow, it’s not a case of simply just cutting more trees, especially when you don’t have the labour to harvest them, or the haulage to transport them to London and nationwide.