Christmas trees in short supply nationwide

Posted at 1:13 PM, Nov 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-27 13:13:01-05

AUSTIN, TX (KXAN/CNN) - This holiday season, a nationwide Christmas tree shortage could mean you won't get a tree at all if you don't buy one ahead of the crowd. 

Tree farmers and those who own tree lots are warning, they don't have nearly as many trees as they usually do.

Most years, it can be a little taboo to buy a Christmas tree before it's even thanksgiving, but this year, the "can't wait for Christmas" types have the right idea.

For the first time in Papa Noel's 37 years of business, there aren't enough trees, owner Jimmy Coan said.

He explained that a tight economy and less demand for real trees a decade ago hurt the industry.

"Many farmers in the Northwest went out of business during the recession," Coan said. "We're seeing the repercussions of trees not going into the ground."

Coan said he usually ships in a few thousand trees from Oregon and Washington to sell at his six lots around Austin.

With supplies cut this year, he could only get 500. He's importing as many others as he can from North Carolina.

"Everyone in the market is going to run out of trees this year," Coan said.

Even though this lot is full of trees right now, Coan said by the end of the week it could be looking more sparse because people are catching wind of the shortage.

"On some locations, we probably will not have enough trees to get through Monday," he said.

Papa Noel will restock its lots as long as possible, but as supply thins out, demand drives up prices. 

Coan said the wholesale price of trees from the Northwest went up nearly 50 percent this year due to the shortages.

"Don't wait until the last minute," he said.

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