Somewhere Clark Griswold is smiling.
Live Christmas tree sales are reportedly up, according to industry experts. Part of the demand is for the cut-your-own experience, bringing to mind the “Griswold Family Christmas” scene that opens the popular holiday movie “Christmas Vacation.”
It’s partly because of the pandemic forcing more families to hold individual holiday celebrations in their own homes, instead of traveling to gather together at one location. Families are also trying to find ways to enjoy a “good old-fashioned family Christmas” while dealing with COVID-19.
“They are staying home and having a bunch of small Christmases — and everyone has their own tree,” Tim O’Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, said. The association is based near Denver, Colorado, and monitors the industry nationwide.
Part of the trend this year is bringing a real tree into the home, opposed to relying on the artificial holiday centerpiece.
Maria Stoyka is the secretary for Kline’s Tree Farm in Northern Cambria. Kline’s provided the 20 small Christmas trees that are lining the streets in Uptown Somerset as part of the seasonal display campaign. People can buy already cut trees from the lot, or travel into the field and cut their own. She said interest in the latter option is up this year.
“It’s something to do with the family,” she said about cutting your own tree. “More people chose to cut their own this year.”
Stoyka added that sales overall are up from previous years. People have traveled from as far away as Pittsburgh for the holiday pine.
“We had a lot of new people this year,” she said.
Typically, up to 80% of people choose an artificial tree. Most of them come with the lights already strung on them, among other custom features. The $1 billion market for fake trees has been growing roughly 4% each year, according to the Associated Press.
The report estimated that about 20 million real trees are sold each year.
At Painter Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Somerset, the inventory was reported on their Facebook page to be sold out on Dec. 5.
“We are closed for the season. We (have) sold out of trees. Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season. See you all next year,” the post reads. In November, Painter Pines posted that there would be 350 trees available for the season.
The trend isn’t limited to just trees, according to Jordan Paschal, with the Lowe’s corporate communications team. He was not able to provide sales statistics, however, he shared some trends the company, which has a location in Somerset, noticed this season.
It’s a story bucking the overall trend.
“With more people spending the holidays at home, customers began decorating earlier and we saw increased interest in products that could be used to decorate both inside and outside of the home like string-lights, fresh-cut trees, wreaths and greenery,” he said in an email. “Some of our consumer research also indicates that consumers are planning to decorate unexpected rooms of their homes such as bedrooms, children’s play areas and office spaces. Our new fresh tree delivery offering has been well received, with many markets selling out quickly.”
O’Connor said sales are reported to be up industry wide. Pennsylvania ranks third in live Christmas trees, behind Oregon and North Carolina.
“It’s real clear that between people wanting a meaningful holiday this year and wanting a real tree and people not traveling this year, there has been a really big uptick,” he said.
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While sales totals won’t be in until next year, he estimated that there will be millions more trees sold than last year.
The Somerset County commissioners had good news for 115 small businesses on Tuesday.
“We are clearly seeing a strong demand for real Christmas trees this year,” he said. “All of our members are reporting they have had record sales.”