LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Shortages have become common throughout the pandemic. Everything from toilet paper to chicken wings has seen some sort of strain on supply, but now a pivotal part of the Christmas season may be harder to get as well – a Christmas Tree.
"They got shortages, everybody got shortages on their trees," Larry Lester, owner of Larry's Trees, said. "I have trees coming out of Oregon, and I got some trees coming out of Michigan, and I got some trees coming out of Washington."
Rows of trees of all shapes and sizes occupy the lot on Cantrell where Lester sells his trees. If you're visiting, it looks and feels like a normal year.
But Lester is upfront in saying it's not. trees that should normally be easy to get are now harder to find, or next to impossible to get.
"Your 9 to 10's, I order 125 of them," Lester said. "I got 22 of them."
It's not just finding a tree that might be harder to do – buying them is going to impact your wallet more as well.
"A little bit, not too much, but they went up a little bit," Lester said. "I went by some competitors' places today, and their prices are the same way. Their prices went up probably 30%."
That's to offset the costs Lester is facing now. His cost to ship has more than doubled from last year, and that extra cost has to go somewhere.
"Where we used to pay $2 a mile, now we're paying $4.50 to get them shipped in. It's just astronomical," he said.
So what's the root cause of this? Lester said it's hard to say for sure.
He said it could be due to the weather where trees are grown, or it might even be a shortage of workers.
"We were two days late getting our trees out of the field because they said up there, they said inclement weather because they're on top of the mountain," Lester said. "It's hard to get stuff in because they can't get truckers to truck the stuff."
When it comes to artificial trees, Lester said he's even heard of shipping delays on those as well.
So if you're looking for any Christmas Tree– real or fake – Lester has some advice. It doesn't matter who you go to, just get there soon.
"Today's the 18th. Come out this weekend and find you a tree," he said. 'No matter if you come to me or you go somewhere else and find a tree, because there's a shortage. I was at two different places today to sell Christmas Trees, and they had a handful, they didn't have very many."