December 21, 2020

6 Christmas Tree Facts

By David Widmar

With Christmas just a few days away, we breakdown six Christmas Tree facts. These data come from the USDA’s 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, which was released just this month.

1) Small Growth in Christmas Trees for Harvest, Then Trending Lower

In 2019, the U.S. harvested 11.7 million Christmas trees. Given that it takes several years for trees to reach maturity, there are some neat data on what future harvests might have in store.

Figure 1 shows the number of expected trees in future harvests. In the short run, the supply of trees is expected to turn higher and peak above 14 million in 2022 and 2023 before trending lower again.

For context, we previously noted Christmas trees harvested were more than 20 million in 2002; a slow but long trend toward fewer Christmas trees harvested in the U.S.

2020 Christmas Tree Facts
Figure 1. Expected Number of Christmas Trees to be Harvested. Data Source: 2019 Census of Horticultural Species.

 

2) Most Farms Sales are Wholesale

The majority of farm Christmas tree sales are to wholesale markets, with retail accounting for only 18% of trees farms sell. While a small share of trees, retail sales account for 30% of total farm sales.

3) The Most Popular Tree is…

While there are several Christmas tree species, the top-three account for 71% of all trees harvested in the U.S. (Figure 2). Fraser Fir (35%) is the most popular tree, followed by Douglas Fir (19%) and Noble Fir (17%).

2020 Christmas tree facts
Figure 2. Share of Christmas Trees Harvested, by Species. Source: 2019 Census of Horticultural Species.

 

4) Gaining Popularity…

While the trend has been toward fewer Christmas trees harvested, two species have grown in popularity. Balsam Fir (+16%) and Scotch Pines (+17) are the only two species that have increased the number of trees harvested.

5) The Most Expensive Tree…

Figure 3 shows the average farm-retail price for Christmas trees by species. Across all trees, the average farm-retail price in 2019 was $51 per tree.

The Leyland Cypress was the most expensive, at $62, while the budget-friendly Scotch Pine came in at $41.

2020 christmas tree facts
Figure 3. Farm-Retail Prices of Christmas Trees, by Species. Source: 2019 Census of Horticultural Species.

 

6) Tree-flation?

The 2019 price data seemed like a significant change from our previous update. Table 1 looks at the average prices from the 2019 data, compared to 2014, for select species.

Compared to 2014, the average farm retail price is up nearly $15 per tree. That comes to a 2.1% average annual rate of change. Price changes have been more aggressive for Balsam Fir (+5.4% annually) and Fraser Fir (+4.7% annual), while Douglas Fir prices have been more modest with an average rate increase of 1.7% annually.

For context, the annual inflation rate throughout the U.S. economy has not exceeded 2.5% in recent memory.

Wrapping it Up

Wishing you and yours the happiest holiday season!

 

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