Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.