Christmas tree shortage and price warning as sellers hit by labour and supply chain issues – Sky News

A potential shortage of Christmas trees and higher prices could hit shoppers this festive season in the latest fallout from the labour and supply chain difficulties facing the UK.

Post-Brexit regulations and a stretched labour market could lead to shortages – since one-tenth of real Christmas trees sold in the UK are imported.

There will also be a higher demand for locally grown trees, retailers have said.

 blonde toddler boy, decorating christmas tree with balls and light strings at home
Up to three million Christmas trees are imported each year from countries across Europe

Mark Rofe, who owns, said: “We’ve spoken to our UK growers and they are all facing the same challenges.

“They are seeing an increase in demand for their product, especially from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red tape that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a highly seasonal and time-sensitive business.”

Costs of raw materials including wood for pallets, labour, fertiliser, labels and transport have also soared, leading to rising wholesale prices.

“It’s going to be more challenging to get hold of a real Christmas tree this festive season. However, if you are able to get one, you can expect to be paying more than you would have in previous years. Wholesale prices have increased between 5% and 10% just this year,” Mr Rofe added.

“With Christmas trees taking an average of 10 years to grow, it’s not a case of simply just cutting more trees, especially when you don’t have the labour to harvest them, or the haulage to transport them across the country.”

Ben Wightman, from Christmas Tree World, said retailers could struggle to fulfil the demand for real trees, which would lead to an increase in demand for artificial trees.

“Lockdowns around the world continue to have a knock-on impact on logistics here in the UK,” he said.

“We’re in a fortunate position, we had already invested in new warehousing space this year so we can stock up well ahead of the demand, but we do expect to see a lot of supply disruption generally for retailers and customers this Christmas.”

Around eight to 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA). Between one and three million of these are imported each year from countries elsewhere in Europe.

But it reassured customers that there would be “no shortage of real British-grown Christmas trees this season” due to a “marvellous growing year”.

A woman walks with a child at Walton Christmas Trees Centre and Plant Nursery amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Warrington, Britain,
Some eight to 10 million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year

A BCTGA spokeswoman said: “Those growers who wholesale to garden centres have been assured by their trusted haulage companies that there will be no problems this season regarding the transportation of their trees.

“The public has an increasing understanding that real trees, grown and bought locally, have a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees. This means that real, British Christmas trees are in great demand and we would encourage customers to continue to buy local and support our growers.”

It’s not just Christmas trees potentially under threat this year. A shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas means Christmas dinners could be cancelled, according to the owner of the UK’s biggest poultry supplier.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, said supply issues, as well as a shortage of workers, will affect the supply of turkeys for Christmas.

On Wednesday, however, Boris Johnson described Britain’s energy crisis as a “short-term problem” and said he does not think there will be disruption to food supplies at Christmas.

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