(CBS Local) — Americans getting ready to pick out the perfect Christmas tree may want to bring a little extra cash with them this year. A shortage of local trees in several U.S. states is likely to make prices rise and the window to find a good tree much smaller.
According to reports, tree farms in North Carolina and Oregon have been hit the hardest by the nationwide shortfall this year. The smaller supply is expected to hike prices by as much as 10 percent during the holiday rush.
“There is a touch of an undersupply,” National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Doug Hundley told Newsweek. “If you’re a last-minute shopper, your particular retailer may sell out a week early this year, depending on where you’re shopping.”
A July report from GWD Forestry predicted that recent droughts and wildfires in those two states may keep the tree shortage going until 2025. The study noted that the number of Christmas trees being planted across the country has also dropped dramatically; falling from 5.6 million in 2010 to 3.7 million in 2015.
So when should you start shopping for a Christmas tree?
Exporters and tree sellers are recommending people beat the Christmas rush this year and buy early.
“Our biggest challenges are having enough trees to supply customers and just getting phone calls after phone calls after phone calls of people desperate for trees that don’t exist,” Jason Hupp of Hupp Farms in Oregon told the Statesman Journal.
Doug Hundley suggests Christmas shoppers buy their tree between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1 to get the best selection and avoid a last-minute price hike. “We do have confidence people will be able to find a real tree, but they should shop early. I wouldn’t be scared to buy one before Thanksgiving,” the spokesman added.
Sellers added that while real trees are likely to be pricier in 2017, they are mindful of not pushing their customers into a plastic alternative.
“If we push retail prices too high, we risk pushing someone to a fake tree. That’s something we have to be sensitive to,” Mark Arkills of Holiday Tree Farms in Oregon said, per Newsweek. Local tree farmers added that states like Arizona, California, and Texas will feel the tree shortage the most in 2017.