Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Prices for Christmas trees will be slightly higher this year after growers were forced to scale back a decade ago due to the recession, growers associations have said.
Tree lots across the country may have a shortage of quality trees and prices may be between 2 percent to 7 percent higher than last year.
"From the wholesale side, wholesalers have done well because they're able to sell out their inventory because of a tighter market this year. Other states might have trouble getting enough trees if they didn't jump on this early," Amy Start, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association, told the Toledo Blade.
Live tree demand is around 30 million annually, but the forecast for tree supply this year is 26 million, down from 27.4 million in 2017, Michigan grower Charlie Helsel said.
The problem dates back to the 2008 recession, which hurt Christmas tree growers financially when fewer Americans purchased live trees. Some growers planted fewer trees the next year and others got out of the business altogether.
"A lot of people got out of the business," Start said. "In a lot of areas, basically it cut the number of Christmas tree farms by half."
Since it takes about a decade to fully grow a Christmas tree, that means the post-recession shortage is hitting now.
In California, the South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA had to cancel its annual Christmas tree lot, where it raises money to fund camp scholarships and other activities. The organization said its normal grower notified them they wouldn't have enough trees to supply its lot, and the organizers couldn't find another supplier with enough quality trees.
"We have families that I know this year are going to come to us and be disappointed," Executive Director Rick Politte told the Los Angeles Times.
The average price of a Christmas tree in the Los Angeles area was $75 over the past two years, and experts expect a 2 percent increase this year.
Helsel said the average price for Fraser and Doulas firs was $50 to $55 last year, with an increase to $55 to $65 this year.