At Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire, they confirm their Christmas tree order around September and sell about 1,100 real trees every Christmas. The most popular choices are 6 foot cut non-drop trees, and around a third of their sales are rooted, potted trees.
Jon Mason, Director and Planteria Manager at Highfield, expanded. “The total number of real trees we sell has increased from around 700 to 1,100 over the last couple of years. We think that may be due to less local demand, more than the increase in footfall we’ve been experiencing here. We all know, if last year’s tree was a success, customers tend to come back the following year, so we’re hoping our sales stay strong.”
Jon continued “We also price pretty keenly. We keep an eye on the competition and price at 10-20% below.”
Although the growing numbers of real trees being sold at Highfield may not be indicative of changes elsewhere, a different shift in buying habits could be. Jon explained, “Customers are beginning to favour narrower trees, with some even asking for Fraser firs by name. Fraser firs tend to have a slightly slimmer profile than others, so won’t take up quite as much space in the room. We think it’s this which is driving their popularity. We also offer to clip and shape any trees for customers, and cut the two inches off the bottom for them.”
At Highfield, it isn’t just the trees that sell well at Christmas. Jon continued; “Every year I’m amazed at how many stands we sell. We always ask tree buyers if they’ve got their stand out ready at home. At which point, many realise they’ve got one somewhere but can never remember where. There must be a lot of Christmas tree stands living in people’s garages in Gloucestershire!”
Light sales are shining bright as well. Jon explained “People are decorating outside as well as their interior nowadays. Internal lighting has always done well for us. Over the last couple of years we’ve been selling more external lights too. One factor which has influenced that is the availability of battery powered external lighting. It means people can pop the lights into position, flick the switch and enjoy instant results.”
Last year’s warm winter did little for needle drop. Jon explained how this affected them. “Last winter it was still very mild in Scotland when our trees were cut. So, with the trees still growing and the sap still rising, the shock of being cut resulted in non-drop trees shedding more needles than normal. We had a couple of trees returned because of it. Fingers crossed for a colder winter this year!”