Is charm of real trees fading?

Greenwood Nursery owner Jeff Farber hangs his trees so the customer can see what they look like upright.

Economy, realistic artificial options drive market

Jeff Farber

By Per Peterson

For what could be any number of reasons, sales of Christmas trees — the real ones — are down this year, said Greenwood Nursery owner Jeff Farber. Farber orders his trees in July — he determines how many he orders by the previous year’s sales — and this year, he admits, he guessed wrong.
“I ordered the same amount this year as I always do, but the sales this year are down from a normal year,” he said. “I think the weather was just too nice right after Thanksgiving. If the possibility was there for someone to cut their own somewhere, they probably did.”
Farber also said the ag economy might be playing a role in the decline of Christmas tree sales. If people have an artificial tree already, he said they’re more likely to just put that one up as opposed to buying a real tree.
“That varies from year-to-year,” he said. “Some people will put up an artificial if they’re celebrating Christmas away from home and put up a real tree if they’re having family at their home.”
Today’s artificial trees, Farber said, look more realistic than ever, which might prompt more people to purchase one.
“They can’t put the smell into them or anything like that, but a lot of people have gone to artificial,” he said. “We understand that — it’s just the nature of the beast.”
Farber ordered a total of 185 trees this year — 100 for the Marshall location, 85 for Tracy. The trees that don’t sell either get composted or go to local groups for various reasons. But not much goes to waste. The culled trees — those that are left in the field because nobody wants them — Farber buys are used to make various holiday arrangements such as wreaths.
Farber said he read an article that stated that only 20% of the people who put up trees put up a real one year after year. Part of that, he said, can be traced to a shift in buying patterns over the year.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.