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Christmas tree shortage hitting home for central Indiana

A number of factors are driving up costs, including an increase in 2020 sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as this year's supply chain issues.

INDIANAPOLIS — As many families prepare to deck the halls this Christmas season, one thing that may be a lot harder to find is a Christmas tree.

"Supply has been a huge issue on fresh cut trees for the last few years and, really, this year it is as bad as I've ever seen it," said Pat Sullivan of Sullivan Hardware and Garden in Indianapolis.

Sullivan said his main supplier cut orders up to 70 percent, which means higher prices for customers.

"Prices are way up. We have trees from the west coast that have really pushed the price up, but that's really all we could find," Sullivan said.

Costs are going up 20-25% in the U.S. Artificial tree prices are also up about 20%.

A number of factors are driving up costs, including an increase in 2020 sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as this year's supply chain issues. Some central Indiana Christmas Tree farmers told 13News that tree shortages have been an issue for several years.

For example, Lost Forty Tree Farm in Greenfield posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that Thanksgiving Day hours would be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with Friday, Nov. 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., then closed for the year after that. The reason? "We appreciate all the business and are growing trees as fast as we can, but demand exceeds supply. Just that simple. It will be years before we catch up from the 2012 drought and similar weather issues in 2013, 2014 and 2019."

Lost Forty closed its post by saying, "We do the best we can, but nature is the real boss."

Tom Dull of Dull's Tree Farm in Thorntown said it takes about seven to 10 years to grow a Christmas Tree to full maturity. He said fertilizer prices have doubled and labor has become more expensive.

Due to those increases, Dull said he manages his farm differently when it comes to growing and selling trees by cordoning off sections.

"Our selection is better than it has been for the past four years," Dull said.

But there is a downside.

"As tree farmers age out of the business, there's no one to sell to or no one to take over farm. It's a supply issue. We need more tree growers to meet demand," said Dull.

Demand for Christmas tree deliveries is also up.

"Last year, our freight bill was $56,000. It was $182,000 this year for the same amount of trees," Sullivan said. "Are we getting all the trees we want? No. We have trees but believe it or not, it's 7-to-8-foot trees, so we end up getting other sizes — taller and smaller ones. But it has been really difficult."

Holiday decorations are also in short supply.

"Some of the companies we buy from, we only received about 50%," said Sullivan. "Now, they want to ship them right now, but it's so late that most of those — we won't take those orders. There's décor around, but it's definitely short this year I would say," Sullivan said.

Sullivan Hardware and Garden opens at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. Dull's Tree Farm in Boone County opens at 9 a.m. But a word of caution: be prepared to stand in long lines as Friday is their busiest day of the season.

Masks are required at most places.

Central Indiana tree farms