There are fewer Christmas trees available in Red Deer this year due to a widespread shortage.
It takes eight to 12 years for the festive trees to reach the size most people are looking for. But recent summers being hot and dry has resulted in a shortage of Christmas trees.
“We didn’t get near the number of trees we ordered. When there’s a shortage like that, it affects what we receive,” Gloria Beck, owner of Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre just east of Red Deer
“There are some sizes that we couldn’t get this year. But we still have trees. … Normally this past weekend and this upcoming weekend are big ones (for selling Christmas) trees. We don’t have a lot of trees to go into next weekend.”
Since the trees take about a decade to reach the desired size, the closure of tree farms in Canada and the United States during the 2008 recession is now being felt.
The closures have continued since then. Data from Statistics Canada shows the total area of Christmas tree farms shrunk by nearly 20,000 acres between 2011 and 2021.
Another reason there’s a shortage is because so many Christmas trees were sold in 2020, Beck added.
“When we were in the middle of COVID, people were nestled into their homes and a lot of people who haven’t had that fresh-cut tree for years wanted one. The demand in 2020 was huge and this is where some of the problems started – the Christmas tree suppliers oversold,” she explained.
“A combination of overselling in 2020 and various weather causing drought, we are now at a shortage of trees at our Christmas tree farms. When we place our orders, we never know if we’ll get what we ordered. But with that being said, we’ve still had a good selection.”
Joe Butterfield, owner/operator of Kids Tree Lot in the Cambridge Hotel parking lot, said he hasn’t been impacted by the tree shortage himself, but knows other businesses have.
“I deal with some guys (in Nova Scotia) who have done a good job rotating their crops. But … all of the (grocery) stores haven’t been able to get the trees the way they used to,” said Butterfield, who has operated the lot for 40 years.
The demand for trees has been high the past couple years, Butterfield noted.
“Last year was the first time I had ever been sold out on the 13th of December – I’ve always been open until the 24th,” said Butterfield.
“This year I filled a semi-truck right full, brought another 70 trees. Today I have the same amount sold as last year at this date, but now I have more trees left to finish the season out.”
The Kids Tree Lot will be moving to a different location next year. That location is still to be determined.
—With files from The Canadian Press