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Here's how much a Christmas tree in Quebec will cost you this year

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Those looking to purchase an authentic Christmas tree this year should be prepared to pay about double what they did six years ago.

Christmas tree sellers say prices start at around $80 for a five- to six-foot tree with the price tag going into three digits for anything bigger.

For a 10-foot tree, expect to pay around $150.

Quebec Christmas Tree Growers' Association (APANQ) president Charles Vaillancourt said tree prices are near their ceiling as retailers and growers try to navigate the short selling season.

"We are well aware that the trees are getting expensive, but the artificial trees are getting very expensive as well, and what we want to maintain is a good quality tree at the lowest prices possible for the growers to be able to survive," he said.

Artificial trees start at around $50 and run into the hundreds of dollars.

Vaillancourt said rising fuel and labour costs mean the around 250 growers registered with Quebec's forestry ministry (MATAQ) have needed to increase their prices so that they're around double what they were in 2017.

"Everything is more expensive, so of course, there was going to be an impact on the pricing of the trees this year," he said.

He said growers are planting more trees now than they were in the early 2000s meaning the industry has been able to keep up with demand, but trees take around 10 years to grow, so any shortage cannot be mitigated quickly.

"It is very hard for us to be able to satisfy the demand in a really small window," he said, adding that operating costs were half what they are now a decade ago. "What's really important for us is being able to satisfy the demand with a quality tree and being able to have a price that's going to be respectable for growers."

In the early 2000s, Vaillancourt explained, growers were selling trees at a loss and many left the industry. This prompted a supply shortage.

"This is what created that wave of not enough trees on the market, and also, with COVID, demand went just very high," he said. "There's not a lot of ways to navigate through those things."

BIG BUSINESS

The Christmas tree industry in Quebec is huge. Vaillancourt said the province exports around 1.5 million trees to the U.S. alone, which generates between $60 and $70 million. The three biggest tree-producing provinces in Canada are Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

And the market is growing.

"We have a big 'green wave,'" said Vaillancourt. "People are going back to their ancient values, going back to their basics. They're going back to buy a tree, it's very special as a nice family activity, either go cut a tree yourself or go to the market and buy a tree."

Though production is keeping up with demand, Vaillancourt said growers and retailers know they can only push prices so high to reach as many customers as possible.

"We're at a point that we don't want the Christmas tree to be a luxury product," he said. "We want to we want the Christmas tree to be a product that everybody is going to be able to buy."  

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