The Real Reasons Some Christmas Trees Cost More Than Others

family decorating Christmas tree
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This year, shoppers have felt the tight pinch of inflation on their wallets. Prices have been steadily increasing on everything from food to gas to Christmas trees. If you’re still in the market for a tree, keep in mind that the costs can vary. Despite the current state of inflation, certain trees are inherently more costly than others. Consumers looking to save as much as possible should know why some are pricier, and what to look for (or skip) to get a tree on a budget.

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Location Is A Major Factor

Numerous factors come into play when determining the cost of a Christmas tree, especially location. Shipping a tree from its natural habitat to a lot dramatically drives up prices. Since Christmas trees don’t grow in all climates, the further you are from where they naturally grow, the more you’ll have to pay.

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“One of the big reasons for cost variance is shipping and handling,” said Mark Russell, an ISA certified arborist. “Different trees used as Christmas trees grow in different climate zones. For example, trees grown in Georgia, Leyland cypresses, cost around $7 a foot whereas Fraser fir trees that have to be cut down, packaged, put on trucks and shipped in, are 42% more expensive at around $10 a foot.” 

Size Matters

Also contributing to the price of a tree is its size and popularity. 

“The bigger the tree, the more expensive it’s going to be (and the harder to haul),” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “So, while that 9 ft. tree may be a showstopper in your home, it’ll likely be at least $20 more expensive than the ones between 7 – 7.5 ft.”

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Popularity Also Plays A Role

“Certain trees are more popular than others because consumers are looking for the picture-perfect full tree for their home,” Ramhold said. “Not only will those sell faster, but they may also be more expensive because they’re in higher demand.”

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Some of the most common and popular types of Christmas trees are firs, pines, cedars and spruces. These trees are evergreen, meaning they stay lush and green throughout the year.

The Freshness Factor

Another factor to consider when looking at the pricing of trees is freshness — which also tends to hike up the price. Fresh trees tend to look nicer. The fresher the tree is when you buy it, the longer it’ll stay green and the longer the needles will stay on through the holidays.

Though typically cheaper, a non-fresh/dry tree presents an increased fire risk and should be avoided.

Indie Farms Can Be A Bit More Expensive

“You can shop for real trees at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, but often local farms will also be available and open around Thanksgiving so you can shop these types of places for real trees as well,” Ramhold said. “There’s a chance that prices may not vary too much, but I would expect independent owned farms to be slightly more expensive as they might not be able to offer the same savings that chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s could.”

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That said, if you can afford it, buying from an independent farm is encouraged, because you’ll be supporting a small business — a crucial move in today’s post-pandemic climate. 

The Average Prices of Various Christmas Trees

Ronnie Collins, independent contractor and blogger at Electro Garden Tools blog, laid out the most popular types of natural Christmas trees and their average prices:

  1. Noble fir = $90 for 5′
  2. Noble = $117 for 6′
  3. Fraser fir = $110 for 6′
  4. Turkish fir = $90 for 6′
  5. Grand fir = $94 for 6′

“As for artificial trees, the average price for the same height is around $110, but you can reuse the tree many years in a row,” Collins said.

Honestly, It’s Better Not To Buy a Real Tree

Yes, artificial trees are seeing a surge in pricing, and true, they don’t emit that wondrously fresh pine scent, but the argument to forego a real Christmas tree in favor of an artificial one is rock solid. After all, climate change is one of the major reasons that trees are so expensive in the first place — buying one that has been treated and killed solely for Christmas shoppers only exacerbates the environmental problem

“Following the UN Climate conference COP26, it would be so valuable to showcase that we can have a beautiful Christmas tree and Christmas decorations without the need to bring a freshly cut tree into our homes this year,” said Tali Orad, founder of the NGO 1treellion.org.

In addition to using an artificial tree which you can use next year and beyond, Orad recommends the following alternatives to purchasing a real Christmas tree.  

  • Rent a tree
  • Use a potted tree (one that later can be planted outdoors)
  • Decorate a tree outdoors

Use Other Leafy Decorations Instead

If you must have fresh greenery in your home to deck the halls, consider going the cheaper and more creative route of dolling up plants. 

“Decorate with other types of evergreens such as holly, ivy, boxwood or bay,” said Clive Harris, founder of DIY Garden. “A wooden pyramid decorated with strands of ivy and lashings of holly is an excellent alternative.”

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Ashleigh Ray contributed to the reporting for this article.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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