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How much would you pay for a Christmas tree?

As someone who’s interested in all things gardening, lots of people have confided their concerns about the cost of their Christmas tree. Were you surprised by how expensive real Christmas trees were this year?

A few weeks ago I spoke to Roger Hay, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), to find out about tree prices this year.

He told me that taller trees – those that are 6.5 to 10ft tall – are likely to be £5 to £10 more expensive due to a shortage. But not everyone wants a tree that big.

According to Roger, we should be paying around £30 for a 6ft Norway Spruce and £36-£45 for a similar sized Nordmann Fir. But a quick straw poll of my friends found that they actually paid around £30 for trees that were only 4 or 5ft tall.

Christmas tree prices on the up

So, what’s going on? Admittedly most of my friends bought their trees in the South East, so the high costs could be unique to that part of the country. Or are Christmas tree suppliers pushing up their prices in line with the general price rises we’re experiencing everywhere else?

Professional buyers say it’s all down to a shortage of trees. Around eight million Christmas trees were bought in the UK last year (up from 2m in 2002), which it’s said has left a shortage of around 50,000 trees.

Plus, according to the BCTGA, over 60m trees are sold every year across Europe, resulting in an estimated shortage of around 5m trees! With demand pushing up wholesale prices and sellers accused of not wanting let go of their margins, we’re the ones getting hit by more expensive trees.

So, if you bought a Christmas tree this year, we’d love to know how much you paid for it. Was it more expensive than last year’s? Maybe you bought a smaller tree, or didn’t buy one at all, to save money?


I go away each Christmas, which one of the reasons I have an artificial tree. The other reason is that it seems to be such a waste to cut down a living tree, even though it has been grown for the purpose. I used to feel the same way about flowers.

I can’t bear artificial trees – (I bought a VERY expensive one last year because I’d run out of Norway Spruce that I’d grown myself from seeds and I thought maybe a really expensive high quality artificial one would do the trick and I’d learn to live with it. It didn’t work: before I’d even got it fully assembled I was bitterly disappointed and felt sick at the waste of money. It’s in a box in the shed now.) – so I do always either buy or grow a Norway Spruce.

I hate Nordman’s – they are stiff, unyielding and look artificial even though they are real. They are also over priced and whist they may shed fewer needles than a Norway Spruce, they are certainly not non-shed and as they dry out their branches distort and become very grotesque and ugly.

You can grow a Norway Spruce from seed to about 5 feet tall in about 6 years in a pot – mine grow in pots on my allotment now, but I’ve still got a year or 2 to go before the current crop will be big enough for the 6 – 7 feet I like to have.

So this year I bought a sawn off tree from a local Nursery (Wards of Coal Aston – I’ve recommended them on Which? local for many reasons). I have no idea whether these are grown in the UK or imported – I’d like to think UK grown.

The only problem I had was that by the 1st week of December Wards were running out of trees under 7 feet – quite the reverse of the situation described in the Intro – so I’ve had to have an 8 foot tree – which only just squeezes in to the living room with about an inch to spare between the tip and the ceiling.

The cost?

£35 including £6 delivery charge.

I think this is rather reasonable, compared to prices I’ve paid elsewhere in the past.

Lets just hope that having bought it in early December it lasts until Twelfth Night (Jan 6th). At least when you grown your own you keep it in the pot when it comes in and treat it like a house plant: much better for the tree and for the enjoyment of it!

Chris says:
22 December 2011

We bought a 2m Nordmann for £37.50, one week ago.
Very few over 6ft at the dealer, out of a few hundred.
Different from last year.
vbr Chris.

Mike Bryant says:
22 December 2011

Having been working in horticulture for 43 years I am a bit surprised at the prices for Picea Abies, however the price of 37.50 for a 2 m Nordmania is a good price. Norway spruces were deprived of rain at a vital time which reduced their growing by about a half, you would normally expect 1 – 2 ft growth a year.

Mike Pringle says:
22 December 2011

I bought a tree 4 years ago with roots for about £40. It was about 3 feet. It is now 6 feet. So cost so far £10 per year & a few years to go before I plant it in the garden. Most important I think is we did not kill a tree for our pleasure.

john holmes says:
22 December 2011

We checked out local suppliers (a woodyard/timber merchant, DIY centres and a “haulage” yard. Prices for Nordman were £30 to £38 for approx 6′. We offered the haulier £20 for a less bulky, but attractive, tree and he seemed quite satisfied. It looks fine and has lasted well so far. Perhaps we pay too much for tradition.

Tania says:
22 December 2011

We live in a small Suffolk village. There is a small, local area of land where Christmas trees are grown and sold for a few weeks each year. We paid £15 for a approx 6ft tree. It is fabulous, natural and irregular shaped and smells wonderful! I like to think that we are supporting a local business

I wish there was something similar near to me – I would love to be able to buy fresh and naturally shaped trees ‘on the doorstep’.

Well done for supporrting local agriculture.

Where in Suffolk if you don’t mind me asking for future ref? We live in Suffolk and I too thought the trees were very expensive this year. We ended up paying £45 for a 6ft (?) Nordman Fir and it is shedding loads of needles (we’ve been watering it regularly and sawed off the bottom as recommneded). I’d say it is 5ft max but has a rather long top branch. Two years ago we paid £35 from same supplier and it was much bigger too, more like 7ft.

I seem to have found the most expensive place to buy a tree! I paid £55 for a 5 foot Norwegian tree

drummer says:
22 December 2011

Nordsman from Alice Holt 5 ft £38, 6ft £28 last year

Mike B says:
22 December 2011

£35 for a 6′ Normande spruce from an independent small garden centre. I saved at least £10 by avoiding large corporate garden centres and the high street. Brentwood, Essex

Yes, going local and independent is very definitely the best way to get quality and value.

Oldguy says:
22 December 2011

£50 paid for a Californian Spruce plus £20 delivery from Paddock Nursery in Stratford-upon-Avon.
This tree is 10 feet tall and was put in a tub last year so is still alive. Could be used next year or planted out.
Good value – beautiful tree!

Bought a tree for £40 this year, same cost as last year but about 30cm shorter!!

Valerie says:
22 December 2011

£20 for a 5 foot Norway spruce from the greengrocers in Petworth, West Sussex.

We gave up on garden centres some time ago as their trees always shed lots of needles while indoors and pretty well all the remaining ones when taken down. We then bought from a local grower selling from a barn yard, who charged £10 for a 6 foot tree. These were wonderful, lovely shape and never lost any needles. However they are not available every year as it depends on what stage of growth his trees are, and there were none this year.

So this year we have spent twice as much as usual but it is a lovely thick healthy tree which hasn’t yet shed a single needle though bought 2 weeks ago. So it certainly isn’t the case that prices are inflated in the South East, it is more likely that they are higher in towns and cities.

We wanted a nine and a half foot Nordman Fir, but could only find much smaller or much tallet ones. Ended up with eleven foot and had to shorten. Beautiful tree but had to pay £80!!!

John R says:
23 December 2011

I bought a really good artificial 5 foot spruce for half price – under £50 – in the January sales in 1995, and when it has lights and baubles on it, it looks great and doesn’t harm the planet, nor shed needles on my carpet!!!

jarpo says:
11 October 2014

Didn’t harm the planetl what the manufacturing, the plastics from oil, the eventual disposal?
As opposed to a natural tree growing removing co2 and natural rotting back into the earth?

You are right about the use of oil and the costs of disposal, but don’t forget that composting of natural trees produces plenty of carbon dioxide and that artificial trees can be used for years, avoiding transport costs, etc.

P Basu says:
23 December 2011

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cartel operating among retailers in this area as they know people have to buy a tree, if only for the sake of their children. There is no other explanation for prices to go up each year by around £5.00. I paid £35.00 for a smaller tree than I had last year for £30.00.

Mike M says:
24 December 2011

Paid £70 for a 7ft Nordman which was a named variety (can’t remember the variety name, Blue something or other) and was priced higher than the standard nordman which had sold out. The selling of named varieties is probably a new marketing exercise to justify premium pricing for very little additional benefit. The price included a £5 voucher to be spent at the garden centre before the end of Jan, an obvious money making ruse relying on people not redeeming the voucher or spending more if they come back to redeem the voucher. I would have walked away but everywhere else had sold out of the type of tree I wanted.
I got a Nordman from the same place Burleydam Nurseries in Wirral last year for £60 and the year before for £50. The price for this years tree seems to be way over the odds reading through other peoples posts. I am now considering buying an artificial tree next year if I can’t find the real tree I want from somewhere else at a reasonable price. I think £70 is too much to pay for a real tree(representing a 40% price hike in 2 years).

I’m horrified at the prices some people have paid!
I adore Christmas Trees but I’m sorry: if I was faced with prices above £40 for ANY type of tree, I’d go without.
The talk of a ‘cartel’ sounds feasible having read some of the prices.

We did not bother with a Christmas tree this year. Went to our son’s family for Christmas Day – they did not have one either, in spite of having small grandchildren, probably because there is not enough room in their lounge once a dozen people have crammed in.

It was all very well when I was growing up in the country and we got a tree with roots from a local supplier; we planted it after Christmas and carried on using it for the next 10 years. Now there only seem to be cut ones that get thrown away after 2 weeks, when they are dead anyway. Not sustainable, either from the point of view of cost or the environment.

Susiq says:
3 January 2012

This is the first time for years that I bought a tree without roots – they were incredibly expensive this year – £37.50 for a 3 foot tree! Bought a 5 foot Norwegian Spruce for £20 instead, its lasted really well. Supported our local farm shop here in North Northumberland, but I would still have preferred a ‘live’ one with roots!

Nigel says:
4 January 2012

We had a fantastic deal this year on a Nordman 5′ tree. Ordered through Viking Direct for only £10! Wsa delivered to the door for an extra £2 in excellent condition. Best deal ever and hardly any needles dropped.