BRITS may face difficulties decking the halls this winter thanks to a potential shortage of Christmas trees and higher prices.
Retailers are warning they might not be able to meet customer demand for trees because of the labour and supply chain difficulties facing the UK.
Brits could face a Christmas tree shortage this yearCredit: Rex
According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), between eight and 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year.
It is estimated that the UK usually imports between one million and three million of those Christmas trees each year from countries elsewhere in Europe.
But the ongoing HGV driver crisis, post-Brexit regulations and a stretched labour market could result in shortages on the tree supply from other countries.
Mark Rofe, who owns ChristmasTrees.co.uk, said: “We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges.
“They are seeing an increase in demand for their product, especially from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red tape that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a highly seasonal and time-sensitive business.”
Meanwhile, the price of raw materials including wood for pallets, labour, fertiliser, labels and transport has soared, meaning customers could pay as much as 10% more for their trees.
Mr Rofe said: “It’s going to be more challenging to get hold of a real Christmas tree this festive season.
“However if you are able to get one, you can expect to be paying more than you would have in previous years. Wholesale prices have increased between 5% and 10% just this year.”
Because Christmas trees take around 10 years to grow, growers can’t just cut more, especially if they don’t have the labour to harvest them, or the haulage to transport them across the country.
Ben Wightman, from Christmas Tree World, also said it could become difficult to fulfil the demand for real trees, which would lead to an increase in demand for artificial trees.
He said: “Lockdowns around the world continue to have a knock-on impact on logistics here in the UK.
“We’re in a fortunate position, we had already invested in new warehousing space this year so we can stock up well ahead of the demand, but we do expect to see a lot of supply disruption generally for retailers and customers this Christmas.”
Unfortunately, artificial trees may not solve the problem, as some retailers are predicting shortages there too.
Josh Piercy of online retailer Christow told the Times that production problems in a factory in Asia meant only 60 per cent of his order of artificial trees had been supplied so far.
He said that he had placed his order in January and ordered three times as many as last year to meet the growing demand.
The BCTGA, which has 320 members across the UK, reassured customers that there would be no shortage of locally grown trees this year.
A spokeswoman urged Brits to consider their carbon footprint and buy real trees from closer to home.
She said: “The public has an increasing understanding that real trees, grown and bought locally, have a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees.
“This means that real, British Christmas trees are in great demand and we would encourage customers to continue to buy local and support our growers.”
It’s not just trees that are causing Christmas concerns either, supermarkets have already decked their shelves with festive goodies as they urge customers to “stock up early”.
In a bid to reduce fears due to shortages, stores up and down the country have started selling everything from mince pies to advent calendars.
It comes after major food producers warned of meat running out in two weeks – sparking fears families could be forced to ditch Christmas dinners this year.
We spoke to one mum-of-two who has done all her Christmas shopping already because she’s worried about shortages – and it’s saved her cash too.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has vowed to give HGV drivers a pay rise and send morale-boosting letters in bid to save Christmas.
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