ORLANDO, Fla. - Christmas tree shops are already busy. But as you go to grab your fir this year, you might notice the pickings are a bit slim and the price tags are a bit hefty.
Jose Rivas, the owner of Josario’s Christmas Trees in Orlando, explained that, just like every other industry, Christmas tree farms and sellers are hurting.
"I know about three other locations in town that are no longer selling Christmas trees," said Rivas. "They can’t get enough trees, then there’s the high cost – the tents, the rents, the labor. You can’t just open up to sell 50-100 trees. You have to be able to sell enough trees to make it worthwhile, to be able to stay in business."
Josario’s has been in business for 28 years. They’ve been able to get inventory, but not as much as usual – the owner says they’ll probably have to close up a little earlier than normal.
Jack Smith has been going there with her family her whole life.
So how’d she feel about this trip?
"It was okay," the ten-year-old answered. She seemed fairly unimpressed, though her younger siblings were thrilled with the mini-trees, stuffed animals, and candy the shop is handing out for free.
Smith’s mom noticed the prices were a bit higher than normal, but as a small business owner herself, she says she gets it.
Jose Rivas explains, there are several reasons for the price increases and smaller trees.
Rivas says Christmas tree prices are about 25-28% higher than you’re used to paying too.
"It’s a crop. You need fertilizer, you need twine to tie the tree. You need labor to bring it down the mountain. It’s a domino effect."
He says netting used to cost the shop $27; now they have to pay $57. The tree stands they buy used to run them around $8; now they go for 31. Three or four years ago, Rivas says these tents cost $13,000; now they’re $25,000.
The consumer winds up footing the bill in the long run.
But, let’s be clear: there are still plenty of beautiful trees to choose from, and you leave with something special: Memories.
Nisha Thompson was perfectly happy with the selection of trees. She says she and her husband found the perfect one after just a few minutes, and paid about $150 to take it home.
"This is our favorite spot that we come to," said Thompson. "They’re so nice."
She says the fresh tree kicks off the holidays for her too.
"Having the smell, it kind of gets you more into, ‘Let me get the spirit going.’"
If you’re thinking about stopping by over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Santa Claus will be on site from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.