Thursday, December 03, 2009

Slump? What slump?

"Wary shoppers may be slashing their gift lists, but one Christmas tradition appears to be recession proof: the tree," says the News & Observer.

" 'People are going to have 'em a Christmas tree,' said Sheila Barrier, a Burke County tree grower who set up shop at the State Farmers Market this month.

"Even as the economic crisis gripped the nation last year, statewide sales of live Christmas trees were off less than 1 percent from 2007. And many growers say this year's sales are starting off stronger than last year's."

I can only speak for myself and my family, but we once again trotted out to the State Farmer's Market to pick out our tree. And what a deal! In the past couple of years, a 7-8-foot Alleghany County tree would run us about $65-75. Not this year. The tree we selected had a tag price of $59, but we were offered it for $50. We possibly could have gotten it for less.

So, the lesson here, support your local/state economy. N.C. Christmas trees may not cost as much as you think this year.

Christmas trees make up a small fraction of the state's $10 billion farm economy, bringing in about $100 million a year for North Carolina farmers. But they have become a bright spot for the agriculture industry as it has been battered by declining profit from meat, nursery plants and other high-value products.

Western North Carolina farmers grow about a quarter of the nation's Christmas trees, putting the state second in the nation. Oregon is first.

Some tree buyers say the Christmas tree is more important than the piles of gifts under it.

"It's the memory-making part," said Elizabeth Langfahl of Raleigh, who was buying a tree this week with her two daughters, 3 and 6. "My girls can't tell you what they got last year, but they remember getting the Christmas tree."