LOCAL

Heading out to buy a Christmas tree? It'll cost you more this year.

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

York County residents purchasing a Christmas tree this year might experience a familiar sensation.

Sticker shock.

Like virtually everything else, trees are also experiencing the effects of inflation.

Rising fuel prices and the cost of labor and chemicals have caused many tree farmers to hike prices, according to Gerry Strathmeyer, the owner of York County-based Strathmeyer Christmas Trees.

"We are opening earlier; it's mainly the pressure from the box stores," Strathmeyer said, adding that the rapidly changing holiday markets are causing consumers to shop earlier to buy their Christmas trees.

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Strathmeyer Christmas Trees has several locations across York County, most notably stationed at the York Fairgrounds. This year, they are opening earlier than usual. As a result of inflation, Strathmeyer will be hiking prices by 15% this year — much like last year.

A survey by Real Christmas Tree Board, an industry group, found that 71% of members it surveyed expect to increase prices between 5% and 15% compared with last year.

“We separately surveyed consumers in July about their expectations for tree prices this year. They told us that they do expect to pay more for trees because of overall inflation but that they’re still going to buy their tree,” Marsha Gray, executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board, told CNN.

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Tree farmers in particular have struggled with inventor, too — though those supply-chain issues do not come as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the economic recession in 2009, tree growers struggled to plant more trees as demand rose, according to The Associated Press.

Josh Brumley, front, and Colin Jones, move trees at Strathmeyer Christmas Trees’s location at York State Fairgrounds in West Manchester Township, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.  Dawn J. Sagert photo

"There is still a shortage of trees on the market, not quite as bad as last year, but it's still a shortage on the market," Strathmeyer said. "Probably in another two years, there should be a larger supply in the market."

In Strathmeyer's case however, inventory should not be a big issue.

"Fortunately, we've planted enough trees that we should should be fine with the inventory," he said.

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Strathmeyer will open Saturday for the season at the York Fairgrounds, 334 Carlisle Ave., from noon to 5 p.m. Strathmeyer Christmas Trees has 10 additional locations across York County, which can be found at https://www.strathmeyerchristmastrees.com/

Like last year, Strathmeyer Christmas Trees is partnering with Christmas Spirit Foundation to bring Christmas trees to military bases across the country. Customers can purchase a tree to be donated or visit https://www.christmasspiritfoundation.org/ to donate.

"In reality, it's the the honor of being a part of somebody's family tradition," Strathmeyer said. "And that's really, to me, what's important at this time of year."