Christmas tree shortage affects prices

SEATTLE - A Christmas tree shortage means fewer trees for the demand. Experts say customers can expect to pay slightly higher prices this year, an average of about $10 more.

Christmas tree shopping is an annual tradition wrapping up Thanksgiving weekend for the Fulford Family.

"We wanted a big tree to come to the ceiling and be kind of full but have some openness in the limbs so we can hang ornaments, so we came for the noble fir,” said Amy Fulford.

The noble fir is native to the Northwest and among the most popular Christmas trees. It’s one of about 3,000 Swanson’s Nursery expects to sell this holiday season.

"Nobles do last a long time. Six to eight weeks. They're kind of the best,” said Gabriel Maki, a tree and shrub manager at Swanson’s Nursery in Ballard.

He says Christmas trees take about six to eight years to grow. The recession meant fewer trees were planted and about eight years later, there’s less to go around, even if the economy has rebounded.

"A lot less trees something like 2 million less than customers want,” said Maki.

The impact, slightly higher prices for customers, but Maki says every year customers tend to pay a few dollars more than the previous year.

"We did feel it a bit,” said Fulford. Who said the tree was worth the extra cost.

A favorite this season is the bluer trees, and those with a hint of silver under the branches.

"It’s been selected and bred to be extra blue, extra thick needles, extra thick branches, we call it the Cadillac,” said Maki.

Maki says buy trees earlier in the season for the best selection and touch the branches to check if you’re getting a fresh tree.

"You can feel it, the more they don’t have the sponginess in them, you can feel it that means they’re dry, the tree is drying out itself,” said Maki.

If you keep your tree watered, Maki says it should last an average of seven weeks.