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Texans encouraged to buy Christmas trees early as demand heats up

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Posted at 1:22 PM, Nov 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-21 21:32:11-05

TEMPLE, Texas — Supply chain shortfalls, labor shortages, and high transportation costs are the same story different products this holiday season.

This time it's a product that takes years to develop. No one is the same. And when the holiday season rolls around, we all expect to be able to buy one—a Christmas tree.

“Right now, our farms are getting prepared and they have enough supply,” said Stan Reed, executive director, Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association.

“Supply chain issue has been a big thing on pretty much everybody’s mind for everything this year."

This year, supply chain problems for the artificial plastic trees are leading to high demand for Christmas trees.

“I know most of those artificial trees are coming in from out the U.S. and they’re not going to make it to market," he said.

Reed said Texans on the market for a live tree this year shouldn't wait too long to take their trip to the tree lot or farm.

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A sign outside The Robinson Family Farm in Temple.

“Buy early," he said. "Because if you wait until December, or a week before Christmas, you're probably not going to find live trees."

The Robinson Family Farm in Temple is open this weekend for Christmas trees and wreaths. Here, the experience of buying a tree is a lot like unwrapping that one perfect present.

"Picking out a Christmas Tree is like picking out a wedding dress," Helen Robinson said. "They're different for everyone.”

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The Robinson Family Farm in Temple sells premium precut Fraser Firs grown in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Fraser Fir Christmas trees you'll find here are from Godfather Mountain in North Carolina.

“The very first year I got into Christmas trees I did plant, but that quickly turned into a sunflower patch," Brian Robinson said jokingly.

And if last year is any indicator, the Fraser Firs at the Robinson Family Farm are in high demand.

"We got 1500 trees in last year and sold out in eight days," he said.

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"I think a lot of it starts with the experience," Helen Robinson explained in describing what attracts consumers to live Christmas trees during the holiday season. "It's something that doesn't matter which tree you pick out. There's not another tree out there like you go to your big-box stores."

This year Robinson has actually been able to bring in more trees, but there's a problem, well a couple of them.

"We got a couple hundred more, but the problem is shipping has gone up.”

It's a story consumers are finding around every corner in today's economy.

"The problem is is that shipping has gone up in ways of lumber," Robinson said. "They're paying the drivers a whole lot more to haul lumber. So it's hard to find a driver and the shipping rate between the cost of diesel and everything like that and the availability of the larger trees, too."

To cope with the cost of shipping Robinson said the price for his customers is higher.

"I have had to raise the price just because of my price of shipping has gone up," Robinson said. "But in ways of the margin, I kept my margin the same. So if I was making 20 percent more on a tree or 10 percent more, I just upped at that same amount, so that I'm still making it just as much as I was last year."

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Brian Robinson said this year they've been fortunate to acquire more Christmas trees than last year. But they've encountered higher cost and some supply chain problems. "My tree supplier got us a little bit more, but you know, the problem is shipping cost have gone up," he said.

But like with most products this holiday season, despite higher prices, consumer demand has shown no sign of waning. And the Robinson's and Reed are expecting a flurry of buyers before we hit December.

"I think we'll be able to get through Black Friday weekend, but I'm afraid that we're not going to go into December, I really am," Robinson said. "I would suggest anybody if they want a real Christmas tree from the Robinson family farm to get out here and get it as soon as possible."

Reed said he believes everyone on the market for a live tree will be able to get one, but buying will help families avoid the potential of running into a thinner selection at tree lots and farms.

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Stan Reed is the Executive Director of the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association in Temple. He says consumers on the market for a live tree this year should plan to buy early to avoid running into a thinner selection at tree lots and farms.

“If you wait too long it's kind of like anything else," Reed explained. "If you're trying to get that one toy for Johnny and wait until the end. It’s like that movie jingle all the way. You're not going to find it.”