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Tough economy topples Christmas tree sales

Posted December 22, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— As Triangle consumers trim their budgets in the tough economy, they are cutting back on Christmas trees for trimming, too.

The state has 1,600 growers producing an estimated 50 million Fraser fir trees. The North Carolina Christmas tree industry ranks second in the nation in the number of trees harvested, producing one of every five U.S. Christmas trees.

christmas tree Plenty of Christmas trees left at Raleigh Farmers’ Market

Usually by Dec. 22, you would find few Christmas tree farmers still selling at the Raleigh Farmers’ Market. This year, however, there are a lot of trees left on the lot.

"It has been tough this year. It is slow and nobody is wanting to buy,” tree farmer Brett Weissinger said.

"Profits are going to be down,” said Todd Jernigan, with the Alleghany County Tree Farm.

Local farmers are hurting this holiday season as people decide to skimp on the tree. In order to move trees this late in the season, farmers are slashing prices.

"Early in the year, this tree brought $65. Now it's $25,” Weissinger said.

Weissinger says he has only sold about half of the 500 trees he cut this year.

While Jernigan's trees are selling better, he said he is not sure whether his farm could withstand another Christmas season like this year.

"I'm about like everybody else. You're skeptical as to what the future holds,” Jernigan said.

Christmas tree sales are also down at the farmers' market in Asheville, though the rest of the state is seeing close to normal sales, according to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.


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  • gregwarren Dec 24, 2008

    Not spending $80 every year for a tree that lasts 3 weeks. I've had my fake tree that I bought 10 years ago for $150. Looks good to me.

  • WRALblows Dec 23, 2008

    Fake Christmas trees suck.

  • WRALblows Dec 23, 2008

    "I have seen this first hand at the tree lot across from Foodlion in Wendell."

    That's where I got my tree. And in fact we did go on a Saturday night at 7:30 to get it and they were closed. I thought that was kinda strange. We went back the next morning.

    We got the best looking tree we've ever had for $50 this year. It would have easily been $75-$85 last year.

  • mstan Dec 23, 2008

    Picking out a Christmas tree is my favorite holiday family tradition. However, it is just getting too expensive at some of these tree lots. 2 years ago, I paid over $80 for a nice 7footer. Last year, I gave in and went to Lowes. You know what? I got a equally nice tree for $39. I can't pay $80 for something that will be in my house for about 3 weeks. I think that is the problem that some of these lots are experiencing.

  • fernvalley Dec 23, 2008

    I talked with the family from whom I've been buying my tree for years. He said some of the sellers had a good first and second week so some of them went back and cut more trees, thinking the great sales would continue but it seems most folks who planned to buy trees bought them early. I was later than usual this year and just made it to the Farmer's Market as my seller was packing up to head back to the mountains. He had about 20 trees left but since he had only sold one tree that day, he was not even covering his rent to the market. If you were to figure up labor, land costs, fuel, fertilizer, lot rent, etc., I don't see how a family tree farm makes it unless someone in the family does "public work" (those of you from farm families will understand the term). Those who grow the trees are not getting rich by any means. Support NC agriculture..buy a home-grown tree!

  • SME2 Dec 23, 2008

    I have seen this first hand at the tree lot across from Foodlion in Wendell.

    Of course I think part of their problem is they are not open very late?

  • ncguy Dec 23, 2008

    The wife and I said we were cutting back on the Xmas tree this year. We got a tree that was the same price as last year but 2 foot shorter.

    So I for one blame the resellers for getting greedy! I hope the trees rot in their lots!

  • kikinc Dec 23, 2008

    I got a great tree for a reasonable price 2 weeks ago in Cary. A nice, full 6 footer for $30. When I passed the place last week, they were completely sold out and were heading home.

  • gidgetgirl Dec 23, 2008

    I was riding down the road a few days ago and saw a sign that read "Christmas Trees $35.00...on the Honor System". I guess they had a lock box or something to put the money in. They still had about 30 trees left...hope they have better luck next year.

  • lazerdoc Dec 23, 2008

    If their prices had been competitive at the beginning of the season they would have sold some trees.