TAMPA, Fla. — For millions of families, buying a live Christmas tree is an annual tradition.
"We are from up north and we just love that smell of the Christmas tree and the experience of having a live tree in our house," Maureen Smith said.
But when you pick out your tree this year, the price tag might look a little different.
"They're getting more expensive, and that's due to a lot of different reasons. Freight, the lack of help in the fields, these guys are begging for help, and they just can't get it," said Ed Gallio, the owner of Tampa's Gallio Family Christmas Trees.
Between 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S., but with soaring costs of things like gas and fertilizer, growers are having to raise their prices to keep up, taking a major toll on the bottom line.
Gallio says it's not just the trees that are getting more expensive — it's his entire operation.
"You see the set up we have here — I store this stuff every year. I take it out, I paint it up, and just the difference between last year and this year, a gallon of paint has gone up $25 a gallon," he said.
Like many Christmas tree sellers, Gallio is trying to absorb as much of the costs as he can but prices are still going up.
"From last year to this year, we've gone up, like, $5 on our smaller trees. We had to go up a little more on the larger trees because they've gone up so much in price," he said.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, prices have increased between 5%-20% as compared to last year.
"We're trying our best not to go up on the prices. We're trying to absorb it. South Tampa is a working man's part of town, and I look at these people every day because I live here, and I try to be fair in the pricing," Gallio said.
Despite rising prices, customers are still showing up looking for the real deal.
"We just all enjoy decorating our Christmas tree with music, and do what everyone else does to enjoy the spirit of the Lord and Christmas," Smith said.
For Gallio, he says choosing a real tree over an artificial one is not just about the tree, but the experience.
"It's all about the atmosphere, and I mean, with a fake tree you go to one of the box stores, one of the big stores, buy it in a box and bring it home. That's it. There's no hoopla, and we're trying to keep the hoopla in there," Gallio said.