If you haven’t bought a Christmas tree, you better hurry

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file photo | EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – If you are planning to buy a Christmas tree but haven’t yet, you might want to hurry.

A nationwide tree shortage is impacting retailers everywhere and here in east Idaho, the size of the inventory and price of the trees is being affected.

“Prices have gone up a little bit. (The growers) placed a labor surcharge on our trees this year, which we’ve never seen before,” Ken Brown, owner of Eagle Rock Nursery, tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Brown says tree prices at Eagle Rock Nursery have risen $5 to $7 per tree since last year.

To put it in perspective, he says most of his customers in 2016 wanted a tree in the $69 to $79 range. This year, he says those same trees range from $74 to $83.

Brown says they still have a full display of trees, but unlike previous years, there is no additional stockpile. The quicker people come to buy a tree, the better, Brown says.

“I wouldn’t wait too long. As we get through this weekend and the early part of next week, the shortages will start to show up,” says Brown.

The cause of the shortage can be traced back to the Great Recession the country endured nearly ten years ago. During the economic downturn, tree farmers were limiting their crops to save money during a time of decreased demand.

“The demand versus growers was out of balance this year. During the recession, there were growers who got out of the business or stopped planting trees to accommodate the lower sales. Now that has caught up to them,” Brown says.

Those who wish to cut their own tree on Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management land need to obtain a permit.

Cindy Peterson with the U.S. Forest Service in Pocatello tells EastIdahonews.com there are 45 permits left. People can get them at their office or at CAL Ranch in Pocatello for $15.

“We will probably sell out this year. We started out with 500 permits total. So, there is a little bit of an increase (in permit sales) from last year,” Peterson says.

File photo | EastIdahoNews.com

Those who purchase a permit through the Forest Service can cut a tree up to 20 feet tall in any designated spot within Caribou-Targhee National Forest. This includes Forest Service land from Island Park to the Utah border and over to Wyoming.

“People (cut their own tree) because it’s cheap and it’s fun,” Peterson tells us.

There does not appear to be a noticeable trend in the number of people buying permits versus those buying a tree, nor is there a noticeable trend in the number of people who purchase an artificial tree versus people who buy a cut tree.

Brown says the sale of Christmas trees is a hard business to make money in, which is why corner lots have disappeared in recent years.

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