New Yorkers in search of Christmas trees should be prepared for sticker shock.
Shipping disruptions are among the factors pushing prices as much as 10 percent higher this season, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
That can mean a big jump in a city where prices range widely, generally topping out around $70 a foot at the poshest spots.
“New York City is one of the most high-priced retail areas for Christmas trees in the whole country, especially this year,” said Doug Hundley, a spokesman for the growers group. “It has everything to do with the logistics of getting the trees to the city.”
Pandemic disruptions are raising prices across the economy, with inflation at its highest levels in decades. Global supply-chain bottlenecks, labor shortages and pent-up consumer demand have led to surges in shipping costs. For SoHo Trees, this has translated to a 30-percent increase in freight costs, said Russel Geler, a manager for the vendor, which operates downtown and the Upper West Side.
With restrictions on freight size and truck routes in the city, Geler said distributors sometimes have to swap one large truck for several smaller ones before they can drive into Lower Manhattan to deliver. That means SoHo Trees, which traditionally sources trees from Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Tennessee, is hit with more than one shipping charge.
“The whole industry has been shaken from it,” Geler said. “It’s a nightmare.”
On top of that, extreme weather has lowered the availability of trees in some parts of the country. Geler said he was unable to buy any trees from Oregon this year after record high temperatures scorched branches. In previous years, he had bought an average of 1,600 trees.
Vendors are also grappling with the effects of a decline in plantings that stemmed from the 2008 financial crisis. Christmas trees take about 10 to 12 years to mature.
“A lot of the tree growers were hurting back then, so they weren’t planting much,” said Noah Lipham, an employee at Uptown Trees in Manhattan who has worked in the industry for a decade. “We’re dealing with that now.”
Amanda Flaquer, a 24-year-old in Manhattan, decided to buy a miniature Christmas tree once she saw how much a standard one would cost. She paid $99 for a 5-foot tree at Soho Trees’s location at Varick and Canal streets, where 6-, 7- and 8-foot trees were priced between $150 and $260.
“I was pretty surprised,” she said. “I thought they were going to be a lot less expensive.”