A rush for Christmas trees is expected at supermarkets this weekend as demand is expected to rise by 15% this year as shoppers get into the festive mood early.
The start of the spike in people heading to the shops for their trees – dubbed “Christmas Tree Saturday” – is predicted despite being in November and 28 days before Christmas Day.
Tesco supermarket says it is stocking up on longer-lasting, non-drop Christmas trees such as the Nordman fir to meet the demand for trees to last the extended season – which is being brought on by a response to the pandemic and Brexit shipping issues.
“And this year it is predicting sales to start this coming weekend, in November.
“Not only that, based on increasing sales over the last few years, the supermarket is predicting demand to be up by around 15% on last year.”
Christopher Hood, director and founder of Europe’s largest tree wholesalers Needlefresh – based in Yattendon, near Newbury, Berkshire, which sell more than 700,000 trees each year – said demand for real trees was increasing every year.
He told the PA news agency: “We are going to have a really good year for real Christmas trees this year.
“We see people buying trees perhaps a bit earlier than normal and by the beginning of December the thing will have got into full swing and we expect the majority of people to be out looking for their real tree for this year.
“We have seen a significant increase in sales particularly of living pot grown trees which have absolutely taken off in the past three years.
“I think it’s a culmination of what’s going on with Brexit and the fact that generally people have been struggling with Covid, people want to celebrate and they want to find something to enjoy.
“With there being problems with hauling goods from Asia I think there is going to be a lack of plastic trees, that’s for certain, and real trees are going to see the benefit of it.
“They are hugely important for the environment, with a real tree, not only have you got something that is living, and is grown in the ground and while it’s growing it’s absorbing carbon dioxide, but if you take it home and look after it properly and if you buy a pot grown tree you have the opportunity to grow it on after Christmas and continue to let it breathe in that carbon from the atmosphere.”
Mr Hood said the demand for real trees reflected a need in people in the current climate for family and a traditional Christmas.
He said: “Whenever you are under pressure and life’s not looking too good, Christmas is a great time to put your problems behind you and enjoy and celebrate with your family – and I’m sure that’s what it’s all about.”
Mr Hood said his company is responding to the early demand for trees, and added: “We are sending trees out earlier and we were harvesting earlier to allow for that but don’t forget they are real trees, so they will eventually start to dry out if they are left around too long, so anyone who buys a tree early has to look after it properly.
“The important thing is to treat it like a cut flower which is to give it plenty of water, so even with a cut tree, when you get it home, leave it outside until you really want to use it, then put it in a water-holding stand because a tree will actually drink a pint of water a day once it’s in situ in the house.”
Customer Andrew Seymour, 71, of Aldworth, Berkshire, said that each year he buys a tree early from the Yattendon site to avoid the rush.
He said: “We always come in the first week of them opening and put it in the garden and normally put it in the house the week before Christmas.
“It’s so pleasant to do it like this to avoid the rush and the choice is really good.
“I think artificial ones are still popular but I think people are buying real trees because they are trying to make the most of the festive season, well the shops are anyway.”
Tesco horticulture spokeswoman Lottie Morrison said: “Over the last few years we’ve noticed bulk sales starting earlier in the festive season with a major increase in shoppers choosing longer-lasting, non-drop Christmas trees like the Nordman fir.
“The trend has become so pronounced and widespread across the whole of the UK that we now refer to the event as ‘Christmas Tree Saturday’.
“This year we are anticipating an even earlier rush – at the end of November – on account of last year’s Christmas party celebrations being cancelled because of the pandemic.
“While most of those early sales will happen on the Saturday we do see a spike across the whole weekend – and the following weekend – as it gives families the chance to enjoy the decorating ceremony together.”