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Oh Christmas Tree – New Online Options Allow Customers, Suppliers to Branch Out
- Online Christmas tree sales likely to increase with new options available to consumers
- Christmas tree prices may fall due to strong economy and abundance of trees
- Experts are monitoring changes in international trade agreements and how they may impact the industry
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – E-commerce giant Amazon now sells full-sized, live Christmas trees online. The retailer offers a wide range of trees, both in terms in size and price, largely sourced from North Carolina and shipped within 10 days of being cut down. The convenient new way to click and place in your cart rather than chop your tree begs the question: where do Christmas trees come from? And how do they get to millions of living rooms around the world?
The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) reports that 25-30 million live Christmas trees are sold in the U.S each year. In 2017, live Christmas trees were purchased at an average of $75 each, while fake trees were purchased at an average price of $107. One to two percent of live Christmas tree purchases in the U.S. were made online last year. According to Patrick Penfield, assistant professor of supply chain practice at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, online shopping for live trees may increase with Amazon’s new offerings and encourages consumers in large cities to consider shopping online.
“Online shopping is a great option for consumers especially if you are living in a large city like New York,” explained Penfield. “The only issue a consumer might encounter is that all trees are different from a size and shape standpoint and it may not be the tree you envision.”
While some consumers might have an easier time shopping for trees this holiday season, supplying the yearly demand for live Christmas trees is more complicated than it appears, even for online retailers.
Many Christmas trees are grown on tree farms. According to NCTA, there are about 15,000 farms growing Christmas trees in the U.S. with more than 100, 000 employees, both part-time and full-time, in the industry. Around the world, seeds are typically planted in the spring or early fall depending on the area. Christmas trees can have an average growing time of seven years, but growing time may varying depending on the type of fir seed planted and desired height of the tree.
Prof. Penfield says retailers have to carefully project their needs as many factors can affect their supply chains. Experts say international trade agreements could impact the supply chain as well.
“Due to the long production cycle of Christmas trees, the economy has a significant impact on future production and potentially drives up prices,” explained Penfield. He goes on to say – “The price of Christmas trees could potentially fall as long as there are no natural disasters or growing issues (droughts, fires and insects).”
Media Note: The author of the full article is Daniel Strauss, a student in the Whitman School of Management. The full version of this story can be found at this link.
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