Christmas tree sales are up this year – thanks to Millennials

Beau Coan experienced "the best year we've ever had" for Christmas tree sales this year.

Papa Noël Christmas Trees - with eight locations between Austin and San Antonio, Texas - nearly sold out of its roughly 11,000-tree inventory by Thursday, its final day of sales, Coan said. That marks a 3 to 4 percent increase in sales from 2017.

Coan's success in 2018 is not isolated. According to financial services and mobile payment company Square Inc., the number of Christmas trees sold this year is up about 10 percent compared to 2017, based on over 1,000 Christmas tree sellers who use the company's payment technology.

Why have businesses seen an increase? The main answer lies with one age group: Millennials.

Though often mocked, the generation of people born between 1981 and 1996 are helping Christmas tree businesses thrive, said Tim O'Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association.

"Our members are saying everyday that they're getting more of these younger families," O'Connor said. "Transitioning to a younger customer is a critical juncture."

One of the Papa Noël Christmas Trees lots in Texas.

One of the Papa Noël Christmas Trees lots in Texas. (Photo: Beau Coan, Papa Noël Christmas Trees)

There are several reasons why Millennials might be more likely to purchase a real Christmas tree over artificial one. For starters, they tend to be more environmentally conscious than other generations, Coan said. 

"The Christmas tree industry really tries to go the extra mile to educate the public and to educate our customer base about the sustainability of Christmas tree farming," he said.

In 2017, the National Christmas Tree Association found adults purchased 27.4 million real Christmas trees. Meanwhile, 21.1 million new fake trees were purchased in 2017.

Though O'Connor said he couldn't confirm Square's data, since the National Christmas Tree Association won't conduct its survey until January, he noted the numbers seem to be consistent with what he's heard from other Christmas tree sellers.

Millennials also might lean toward non-artificial Christmas trees because of their focus on "real" objects, said O'Connor, who pointed to that generation's drive for things like organic foods.

Buying a real Christmas tree "matches up with what they're doing in the rest of their lives," O'Connor said.

Beyond "real" objects, Millennials also value real experiences, said Ken Reeves, owner of Mountain Creek Tree Farm in Concord, Ohio. Of his about 2,000-tree inventory, Reeves has sold nearly 70 percent, with his final day of sales this Sunday - a better season than usual, he said.

For millennials, "there's decidedly a preference towards non-artificial" trees, Reeves said, "because they don't want an artificial experience."

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Written by: Ben Tobin, USA Today

Friday, December 21, 2018