Amid the frenzy of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, you may be tempted to buy a Christmas tree – but your wallet will thank you if you delay the purchase.
If you can hold off all the way until Christmas Eve, you'll get the best deal. The average price of a Christmas tree in the United States drops to its lowest point at $47 on Dec. 24, according to a report by Square and the National Christmas Tree Association.
Analyzing Square sales of Christmas trees, the report found buying in the next week or so will net the highest price tag: On Black Friday, Christmas trees cost an average of $77, and that figure spikes to $81 on Cyber Monday. If you can wait just a couple weeks, the average cost drops to $64 on Dec. 18, according to the report.
As a perishable and seasonal product, the trees don't have much use after Christmas Day. Thus, as the holiday season progresses, sellers mark down prices "knowing that if they don't sell them by Christmas Eve, they're probably not going to sell them," says Tim O'Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association.
“It’s a little bit like an airplane seat: once you get closer to the flight time, if that seat isn’t sold, it will never be sold once the plane takes off," O'Connor said. "If that tree isn’t sold on December 26, it’s not very valuable.”
Many customers choose to buy early. In 2017, the National Christmas Tree Association found adults purchased 27.4 million real Christmas trees and "virtually all" were bought Black Friday and the following two to three weekends, O'Connor said.
Prices may be a factor for some, but O'Brien said other considerations – such as when families can come together to buy the tree – may have greater sway on when customers make purchases. Black Friday can be a time that entire families can shop for a tree as many have gotten together for Thanksgiving.
“Families shop for trees when it fits their schedules nicely," O'Connor said.
The report also noted the average price of Christmas trees increased 17% – from $62 to $73 – between 2015 and 2017.
O'Connor says the change reflects fluctuations in supply. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, an oversupply of Christmas trees caused growers to lose money and some to exit the business. Now that suppliers are growing fewer trees, demand has matched supply, making the industry profitable once again, O'Connor said.
In addition, millennials are having an impact on the market. While some members of older generations turned to fake trees as their kids moved out of the house, millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996 – have been opting for natural and locally grown trees.
Millennials are "becoming the most important customers for Christmas tree growers," O'Connor said.