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Edmonton business feels ripple effect of Christmas tree shortage

Canadians being warned of potential for Christmas tree shortage
WATCH ABOVE: Canadians are being warned to get their Christmas trees early this year. The industry says there is a shortage of inventory and as Julia Wong reports, it isn't clear how long it could last.

A Christmas tree shortage in Canada and the U.S. is having some impacts in the Edmonton area.

Brock Friesen, owner of Creekside Home and Garden, has been selling Christmas trees for roughly 30 years, but this year, his tree supplier, based in Idaho, told him there wasn’t enough stock to go around.

“He underplanted during the recession about 10 years ago. It takes that long to grow most of the trees,” he said.

READ MORE: Bah humbug! There is a shortage of Christmas trees in Ontario

Friesen said he called suppliers in Michigan, Ontario and Quebec but had a tough time finding anyone who could provide him the inventory he needed.

“Almost everyone I contacted either had very limited supply or just wasn’t even entertaining customers,” he said.

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He finally found a supplier in Saskatchewan and was able to get the same quantity of trees as in the past but the variety isn’t quite the same.

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“We’re always fond of carrying grand firs – the fullest tree you can buy. We don’t have any this year. We have Fraser fir,” Friesen said.

Fred Somerville, director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association, said he is hearing from businesses in Ontario feeling the effects of the shortage.

“I know we’re getting calls every day from people who have been in the Christmas tree retailing business for years and all of a sudden [they’re] being told they’re not getting their trees,” he said.
How the U.S. Christmas tree shortage affects Canada
How the U.S. Christmas tree shortage affects Canada

Somerville said there are several reasons inventory is particularly low this year, including the 2008 recession.

“A lot of growers just didn’t have a lot of money or resources to plant that year. Since those years, we’ve had two or three severe droughts, which have killed a lot of trees. It takes 10 years to grow a tree. We’re in a shortage situation,” he said.

It isn’t clear how bad the shortage is or how long it will last.

“It could be several years before we’re back up to regular numbers again,” Somerville said, adding the full extent of the issue won’t be known until the Christmas season is over.