Christmas tree shortage drives up cost

FORT MYERS, Fla. Buying a Christmas tree this year will cost more green at the register.

The financial crisis nine years ago is at the root of the shortage. Lower demand in 2008 led growers to plant fewer trees that would have reached maturity this year. And some trees aren’t producing as many pine seeds as they used to.

Al Mueller, owner of Uncle Al’s Christmas Trees in Fort Myers, says wholesale prices are up 18 percent.

“Customers are gonna pay a little bit more no matter where they shop. If you want a live Christmas tree, it’s just gonna cost you a little bit more this year,” Mueller said.

A limited supply has the demand for trees through the roof this year, Mueller said.

“Normally this coming weekend is our peak weekend, which we’re still anticipating, but this previous weekend was crazy busy,” he said.

While the shortage has some people scrambling to get their trees now, others are going with fake trees.

“Well, there’s a shortage of the real ones, plus I don’t like the needles just laying all over — and we can just use this year after year,” Southwest Florida resident Ken Burbach said.

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