Christmas tree shortage means consumers will pay more to celebrate the holiday

There’s an ongoing shortage of Christmas trees and this year consumers will also pay more for a fresh tree.

Bustard’s Christmas Trees in Lansdale is in its 93rd year of business with three farms, including one in Canada. The co-owner Jay Bustard said their tree farm offers 11 varieties for sale and this season worked with other growers to secure more trees.

"We fortunately lined up a bunch of trees, so we’re going to have more trees than last year, but I still don’t expect to make it to Christmas," Bustard said. "We want to have enough trees to make everybody happy, but trees only grow so fast and we can’t get them to grow any faster."


Bustard anticipates selling between 6-7,000 trees this season and all before Christmas.

"Depending on the type of tree and size, you’re probably going to see a 5 to 15 percent increase," Bustard said. "If you’re going to your local retailer, I would go early because there is a shortage."

The dry summer impacted some tree farms, according to Bustard, but he said luckily, they were mostly spared. Aging farmers going into retirement with no one new to replace them is also contributing to the ongoing shortage.

Families picking out Christmas trees said it’s worth paying extra to continue their traditions.

"I want to say last year $65 [for a Christmas tree], this year $89 for the same, comparable tree," said Skip Hessey of Hatfield. "Those trees right there were $125, but you know it’s a tradition, so we don’t mind that and these trees usually last us until the end of February. If you’re going to skimp, this is not the time of year to skimp."

This year, Bustard’s is the co-grand champions of an international decorated wreath contest, and back in 2015 their 18-foot tree graced the Blue Room of the White House. Still, Jay said their biggest pride continues to happen at their tree farm each year when they get a front row seat to the traditions of families near and far.

"We have a gentleman, Mr. Chelhammer, he went to school with my mother. He’s 95-years-old and he come here every year like clockwork on Black Friday. When we open up, he’s there because he wants to be the first tree."