Chains Look for Bigger Cut of Christmas Tree Market

Discussion
Dec 02, 2011

The percentage of consumers going out to a farm to cut down a Christmas tree remains relatively small from a percentage standpoint as many take the more "convenient" route of picking them up at a local lot or even ordering them online for delivery right to their door.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, consumers will plunk down $976 million on real trees this year. Another $530 million will be spent on artificial trees. While a relatively small percentage of fresh-cut trees are being ordered online, the number is growing and large chains including Costco, Kmart, Sears and Target, are looking to grab a share of the business.

According to a USA Today report, Sears is selling a nine-foot Fraser fir for $189.99. RetailWire found a similar size tree on Target.com for $174.99.

Rick Dungey, a spokesperson for National Christmas Tree Association, described online tree sales as a "small, niche market" to USA Today. He added, "But if you’re a 24-year-old, and you’re just starting a household, you’ve been buying things online a long time."

Discussion Questions: Do you see online sales of pre-cut Christmas trees continuing to grow? Will we see greater numbers of chain retailers getting into the business in the years ahead?

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8 Comments on "Chains Look for Bigger Cut of Christmas Tree Market"


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Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Going to cut a tree maximizes the experience. Having one delivered to your door maximizes the convenience. For urban dwellers who have small or even no cars, delivery is an obvious benefit. But the online market will be broader than that, because we increasingly value convenience over experience as a society in general. Sad.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m a little skeptical.

Ben is no doubt right about the convenience issue, especially in markets like New York City, but I’d think those would also be good markets for artificial trees — or no trees at all since natural trees present their own set of challenges to urban apartment and condo dwellers.

In the end, I suppose it all depends on what you define as growth.

Will sales increase? Probably a safe bet.

Will nine foot, $200 trees replace all those pop up tree lots in empty lots and church parking lots? I doubt it.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 5 months ago

Online sales of everything are continuing to grow, and there is no reason Christmas trees won’t be included. But as a live Christmas tree buyer who shops online whenever possible, I know I want to examine trees and pick one I have seen in person.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

No, no, no. Buying a Christmas tree is all about going to the lot, finding the one you want, luxuriating in the scent of hundreds of trees and wreaths, and then bringing it home, then drinking hot chocolate. Until there’s smell-o-vision on PCs, ordering online is a sterile and sad option for most people. (Go ahead — call me old.)

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m 101% with Cathy: Ralphie and I are not impressed.

Daryle Hier
Guest
Daryle Hier
9 years 5 months ago

When you want to plant flowers or bushes around your house, do you order them online? People want to look, smell and feel a live tree. If not, they’ll buy artificial trees instead.

I did a quick anecdotal survey of family and friends and they looked at me like I was a martian. Of a dozen people, none said they would buy a Christmas Tree online.

Look, there are some people addicted to online ordering but to purchase a living Christmas Tree electronically doesn’t work for me, and will be very limited to a small group of consumers.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Those making online Christmas tree purchases are like those who buy groceries on the internet; high-income consumers will little time to shop. Unless there is a family tradition, this group may be slightly larger. They are thinking they need a tree, but don’t want to invest time in the venture. Further, they may be members of the “really don’t care what it looks like” group as long as it is green. Over time I would expect these people to buy artificial trees.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Last time I cut down my own tree was while I still lived in Chicago. It was sleeting and I was crawling in the frozen mud just to bring home a tree that lost its needles in a week.

You could say I’ve migrated to fake trees to “save a tree.” It’s really because it’s so much easier, less expensive and lasts so much longer…and these days, can even look and smell better! And this is coming from a guy whose German mom used to put real candles on our tree when I was a kid. Yikes!!

There are some many options for trees that I see this growing for years to come.

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