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Nothing beats a real Christmas tree. Sure, the fake ones are way less hassle, don’t require you to vacuum every other day and are a one-time buy, but what is Christmas without the fresh scent of pine in the air? If you’re a fresh tree buyer, you’re going to want to get your tree as soon as possible this year. There’s a North America-wide Christmas tree shortage and it means your tree is going to be more expensive than usual if you can get your hands on one at all.

Canada may be the land of the conifers, but we don’t produce enough Christmas trees to meet holiday demands every year. Christmas tree farming is a costly business — the season is only six weeks long, the trees need protection from insects and they need to be pruned into the classic Christmas tree shapes we know so well. Between 2011 and 2016, Stats Canada reports that the number of farms that grow Christmas trees fell from about 2,300 to 1,900.

That means — like for a lot of things — Canada has to import some trees from the States. That’s not looking too good this year and we can blame it on a tried and true scapegoat: the 2008 recession.

Back in 2008, we were all hit by the worst recession since the Depression, but America felt it the worst out of everyone. One side-effect was that people were buying less of everything, including Christmas trees (wow, that was a sad year). That means that fewer trees were harvested in 2008 so there were fewer hectares of land to dedicate to new saplings when it was time to replant. Now buying habits are up again and it’s time to harvest those trees that were planted in 2008 (they’ll be seven to eight feet by now) and there just aren’t enough of them. Uh oh.

In the U.S., farms are already running low on stock with some completely cleared out already. Blame that on the post-Thanksgiving tree rush. Here in Canada, farms are still mostly stocked, but we can’t expect them to stay that way for long. We’re into December and we all know those things go fast in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Unfortunately, it looks like tree prices won’t be going down next year either. Ontario farmers are also attributing the price hike to the rising cost of hydro and the increased minimum wage the province will see January 1. We should expect to see prices rise by around 10 per cent.

So what’s the smartest way to buy your tree? Global News suggests the best time is in the first two weeks of December on the weekend (which can be up to 20 per cent cheaper than buying mid-week). Prices really plummet on Christmas Eve, but that’s only if there are still trees in supply, which there likely won’t be this year. Get your tree early and on the weekend. That’s the best advice we can give you. Good luck tree hunting.