ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Christmas is one month away and Christmas tree shops are popping up across the Tampa Bay area.
Over the last few years, tree farms had a shortage of supply. This year, that isn't as much of a problem.
Ciera Gallagher owns Gallagher's Pumpkins and Christmas Trees in St. Petersburg. The family-owned business has been a St. Pete staple for 35 years.
"Sometimes inventory is sparse, but it is because of freight overall, like shipping the trees, we have to get them shipped from up north, and we get them all over the US," Gallagher said. "In certain areas, if they can't ship them because of, you know, that there's no drivers, that's really what's causing the shortage and the freight to be so high."
What you may run into while purchasing your tree is fewer variety in the types of trees available.
"I'm probably down like one or two trees that I normally get are nobles are a big big hit," she said. "And we only got – able to get – a short amount of them, probably only a couple 100. Just due to the fact that they come from Oregon and Washington. And the shipping has just been... they weren't really able to get a lot out for us."
American Christmas Tree Association expects a strong supply and demand for live Christmas trees during the 2022 season, as well as fewer options.
"In 2022, we expect to see robust consumer demand for artificial and live Christmas trees," Executive Director of ACTA Jami Warner said. "While there may be enough trees for everyone who wants one, the options may be more limited. Our 2022 recommendation to consumers is straightforward: if you want a specific type, style, or size of tree, artificial or live, find it early."
Gallagher's has the same recommendation. The owner said shoppers are buying trees earlier and earlier each year, forcing them to close down earlier as supply runs thin.
"We used to say open till December maybe 19 or 20 at the very latest because there are some stragglers that don't come in right away and get their trees but every year the need for it and the want for it is getting closer and closer to Thanksgiving that I'm running out," Gallagher said. "Everything inside of me wants to stay open this year until December 15 but for some reason, if I can't get any more I do have to close."
Gallagher's offers online tree reservations. Alongside people shopping in-person for trees earlier, the phone calls and online orders are happening earlier too.
"We have people start calling us and like May or June, because you could go online and reserve a tree through us on our website," Gallagher said.
Prices are going up a bit too, this year.
"I would say maybe $15-$20 per tree overall," Gallagher said. "Thankfully, we're family owned and operated, like I said, so we're able to control a lot of it."
Shoppers haven't minded, Gallager said, as so much has been impacted by inflation and supply chain slowdowns.