TAMPA, Fla. — The holiday season is in full swing and the countdown is on to get your Christmas tree. Despite concerns about inflation, the American Christmas Tree Association estimates 94% of shoppers plan to get a tree this holiday season – but only a quarter of those will choose a live Christmas tree.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year at the Tampa Bay Farmers Market. This year is no different and staff said they're already seeing a lot of demand for their Christmas trees.
“It picked up early this year," said Anthony Sansone. "We started a week before Thanksgiving this year. Normally, it’s always right before Thanksgiving but we brought trees in about a week early.”
New shipments are coming in once every couple days, in order to keep about 150 trees on-site at all times.
Sansone's family runs the Tampa Bay Farmers Market and Great Lakes Christmas Tree Farms in Tampa. Their trees range in size from about five to 10 feet, sourced from states like North Carolina and Oregon.
“This one’s our most popular, it’s a Frasier Fir grown in North Carolina and these hold the ornaments the best," Sansone said.
Sansone said they have noticed a difference in their trees, likely due to wildfires out west and drier-than-usual conditions.
“We’ve seen thinner trees this year, not as big," he said. "A lot of people are always asking for the full trees, but a lot of the shorter trees are the fuller trees.”
Despite rising costs, Sansone said he's still seeing customers willing to spend a few extra dollars for holiday cheer. Nancy Frierson got her tree from Sansone's family last year and came back this year to check out their selection. She values the tradition of getting a live Christmas tree and said her family will never have an artificial one.
“It’s really the whole having the tree, putting it up, having it for a week without any lights or anything on it," Frierson said. "Then we go through the whole process of putting the lights, putting the ornaments and our house smelling like a tree is really important.”
Frierson, who's from South Tampa, felt it was important to support a local family-owned business.
"I feel like the trees here are really good value," she said. "They might have gone up, but I don’t feel it up here."
Sansone suggests getting your Christmas tree as soon as you can, as many of the fuller trees will likely be gone in the next week or two. When picking out your tree, Sansone said it's important to consider the quality, size, shade of green and price.