The coronavirus pandemic and prospects of a locked-down Christmas have sent the demand for Christmas trees soaring this year and already under-supplied sellers are having a hard time keeping up.
“There has been a shortage of certain species since 2018, so we’ve been dealing with it for a couple of years,” said Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.
Brennan said that there has been an increase in people going to tree farms this year.
“We’re seeing such an increase in people coming up to tree farms and enjoying the real trees, that we see an even bigger demand than we had before,” she said.
“The last five years we’ve seen a steady increase of about 15 per cent per year (in) demand,” Brennan said.
The supply of trees, however, has remained constant.
“I’d say that (has) probably stayed fairly consistent over the past few years,” James Somerville, president of Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.
COVID-19 contributed to the rising demand for Christmas trees in Ontario, with families unable to leave the country for the holidays and seeking ways to ensure some cheer through a difficult season.
“Absolutely, no other reason,” George Kapy, owner of Fandango Tree Farms, said.
For some dealers, the problem was not so much their initial supply, but the high demand.
“Our stock was more than we had last year but we sold out faster,” said Justin Noonan, employer for Trees On a Truck Christmas Deliverycanna.
The rush of buyers came earlier than usual and tree yards were emptied much sooner.
“Christmas tree farms have sold out, so they have already closed down,” Brennan said.
She said Christmas tree farms remain financially stable and took care to follow safety protocols throughout the pandemic.
“One of the things we did in Ontario was we provided protocols for each area,” Brennan said.
“We also put in place signs, protocols and guideline signs for every farm that is a member of our association,” she said.
Planning has already begun in the event COVID-19 continues to affect the industry next year.
“The good thing is that we already have protocols in place so we see what we had to do,” Brennan said.
“We certainly will look at what we were missing, and what we can do better.”