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Record-high inflation ups cost of holiday decor

A staple holiday decoration, the Christmas tree, is going to cost you more this year and you can blame inflation.

ST. LOUIS — The holidays are just around the corner, and this year you’ll probably be spending more to “deck the halls.”

A staple holiday decoration, the Christmas tree, is going to cost you more this year and you can blame inflation.

5 On Your Side went straight to the source to find out why trees are more expensive this year and how inflation will impact your bottom line for the holiday season.

We met with Lynn Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan Farms in Florissant.

“The trees are up about 10 to 12, even 13% up from last year,” he said.

This year, to get your hands on an evergreen tree, you’re going to have to spend more green. Prices are up, and not just at Sullivan Farms.

The Real Christmas Tree Board surveyed 55 Christmas tree growers in August. More than 70% of growers reported their trees will be anywhere from 5% to 15% more expensive this year.

These growers supply more than two-thirds of the country’s Christmas trees.

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“Freight is going to be a little bit more. We anticipated freight was going to be a lot more. But, for some reason, we’re able to find trucks that can bring trees in for maybe 100 or 200 more than they hauled them for last year. So, freight affects the trees but it’s not as bad as inflation,” Sullivan said.

The prices for goods and services have spiked more than 8.2% over the past year.

Webster University professor and economist, Dr. Mitch Ellison, said it’s a big problem that grew out of control over a short period of time.

“It really began with COVID because not only did we respond by pumping the money out, but we also had supply problems in China, then the war in Ukraine. If it started anywhere, it really started with our response to COVID,” he said.

We’re all bearing the weight of inflation. The effects are heavy, and that means our pockets are feeling a little light.

“It’s going to impact everybody but it’s going to be particularly hard for those on a budget,” Ellison said. “Really what people are doing now is they’re kind of shifting their budget so that they can afford a good holiday. But other things are having to go.”

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Luckily for Sullivan Farms, people are still showing interest in purchasing a real Christmas tree.

Customers aren’t “doing away” with their Christmas trees this year. They’re still prioritizing the holiday staple, even with the slight change in price inflation brings.

It’s not just consumers trying to adjust to the changing costs. Suppliers are doing the same.

Fuel, supplies and just about everything else costs more. It’s getting tougher for tree suppliers to get Christmas trees to local lots. Some aren’t able to deliver.

Sullivan said some of his counterparts are battling this problem.

“I’ve had more demand this year from other tree lots wanting to buy tree lots because their tree suppliers shut them off and said they weren’t going to have trees,” he said.

Sullivan said he had to make a trip to Michigan to find more suppliers for his own tree lots.

“I added three new growers up there,” he said.

Most of the Christmas trees at Sullivan Farms are delivered by truck.

With the trucking industry shortages we’ve seen during the pandemic, and the hike in gas prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, delivery costs more.

“Those trucks get terrible mileage and so you’re spending a lot of money trying to move things around the country… that’s going to be very expensive, and that cost increase is going to be moved onto the consumer,” Ellison said.

Sullivan Farms provides trees for at least five lots in the area. Trees will be coming onto the main lot on New Halls Ferry Road by the trailer-full to be distributed.

“It’s probably 75,000 trees,” Sullivan said.

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