After months of a state-imposed lockdown keeping people primarily confined to their homes, Washingtonians have been eager to start the holiday season early, if strong Christmas tree sales throughout the state are any indication.
While in years past many people typically get their Christmas trees during the Thanksgiving weekend, by that same weekend this year many Washington tree farms had already sold out their existing stock and closed for the year. Across much of the state today, farms with remaining available trees are now only open for reservations made in advance.
As of 2017, there were 62 Christmas tree growers in Washington covering 8,000 acres, with 525,000 trees sold that year.
Mike Peters and his wife run Lochsloy Acres Tree Farm located in Lake Stevens. Peters told Lens that concerns over COVID-19 made them cautious about opening at all this year due to the large crowds the farm draws. They ultimately decided to open on Nov. 7 through appointment-only and limited visits to 100 people per day.
Despite those restrictions, Peters said that by Thanksgiving Lochsloy Acres had sold 1,200 trees compared to the 700 trees in 2019; such strong sales allowed them to close except for advance reservations. He then directed people to a smaller tree lot nearby – which also quickly sold out.
“We were surprised at the number of people who came out in our preseason and had never done this before,” he said. “They had never cut a tree. I would say that we do 50-60 percent on Thanksgiving weekend. We did 100 percent of our business before that weekend. I know of a lot of places that didn’t even open.”
It’s been a similar season for other Christmas tree farms throughout the state.
Shelton’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cashmere closed Thanksgiving weekend after being open for a month, while Christmas Creek Tree Farm located in North Bend opened on the day after Thanksgiving but has since closed as well. The announcement on its website states that “Covid-19 2020 year demand for a Choose and Cut tree farm experience has been exceptionally high with the opportunity for families to get outside together to choose their perfect Christmas tree.”
Peters said the lockdown has left people craving opportunities to not only get out, but also to spend time with family they haven’t seen in months. “What’s going on is people just want to get out of the house. (It’s) a safe way to get out of the house with a family and go through a family project that they can do together. People just wanted to do something normal.”
Other places such as Swansons Nursery in Seattle allow tree pickups but only by reservation. Director of Marketing & Communications Aimée Damman told Lens that they have experienced “really brisk sales” since they first started selling trees on Nov. 21 and have extended their store hours to accommodate customers. Though they order a finite supply from local family tree farms, she said they’re not running out of trees anytime soon.
As with other tree sellers this year, she said they’ve had more interest from customers much earlier in the season. “Everyone was just so ready for the holiday season to have some joy in their lives and make things cozy. Everyone was ready to start decorating. People didn’t want to wait. They wanted the holiday season to come.”