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Christmas Tree Sales Spike During Pandemic

Christmas tree barn
Sales of Christmas trees at Cross Creek Nursery in Chesterfield were brisk. According to the owner, they sold out last weekend. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

Chesterfield dad Joe Clark wanted to do something different for his family this Christmas. 

“We typically have an artificial tree,” Clark said, but, “It’s just been a rough year for everyone. So, I’d thought it'd be something a little different for the kids.”

He took his family of six to Cross Creek Nursery, in full disclosure, the workplace of this reporter’s wife, in Chesterfield County last week and bought an almost 10-foot tree. Had they waited until this weekend, they’d be out of luck. 

“We sold out yesterday,” said Cross Creek owner Jason McAuliffe on Monday.  “Last year we had trees available for sale all the way up to the very end, this year we are sold out on the sixth.”

They’re not the only place to sell out. Olde Church Christmas Tree Farm in Powhatan sold out on the first day of December, said owner Louise Farmer.

“Real Christmas tree sales this year were very strong. This was the busiest weekend we have ever had in 37 years,” she said.

Nationally, sales of real trees, whether at  ‘cut your own’ farms or at lots, have been up.

“This year, we may be experiencing the best year in a long time,” said Doug Hundley, spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association. “Christmas tree sales have been very brisk.”

Hundley says the reason sales are up is simple: people want to celebrate.

“They're stressed from the pandemic and they're going to make this Christmas season the best ever,” Hundley said. “And they seem to want to decorate early and decorate abundantly. And they also seem to be wanting to use real trees more than they have. And of course, we welcome that.”

Tree grower Bill Francisco agrees with Hundley. He’s been growing trees on his farm in Stanton, Va.. and delivering them to Richmond for over 40 years. 

“I think people are happy to get on with the tradition of decorating their tree,” Francisco said. “It's something they can deal with purchasing outside in a safe environment. I think people are really eager for this experience and they really wanted to enjoy it for a long period of time.” 

Though many local tree lots have sold out, Hundley says there still should be enough to go around. Hundley says it’s hard to anticipate future sales, because Christmas trees take seven to 10 years to mature. But he says farmers and consumers are finally in sync.

“Nationally speaking we've got enough trees for the market this year. There's no question about that,” he said.

But Farmer, of Olde Church Christmas Tree Farm, disagrees with Hundley. 

“Media info on the shortage of trees made everyone scramble to get their tree before the supply was gone,” she said. “Everyone is ready for a real tree to celebrate this Christmas. Twenty five percent of artificial tree owners chose a real tree this year.”

There are still some real trees available, but time is running out. Bill Francisco says this past weekend was very busy and he only has about 40 trees left on the lot. He expects he’ll be sold out by Wednesday.


Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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