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Christmas tree costs in Utah see steep increase

SALT LAKE CITY - If you're lucky enough to find a Christmas tree this year, you'll have to pay some higher prices for it.

"I know," exclaimed one customer at a Sandy tree lot, "It jumped up quite a bit."

It's not just customers that are paying higher costs.

"I've been in the business for 32 years, and I've never had to pay the prices I'm paying," said Matt Shadle, who owns seven tree lots in Utah.

Shadle said the real problem is a tree shortage. He says the wildfires in Oregon have driven up prices on Noble and Nordmann Furs. Plus commercial trees take about 8 years to grow, and 8 years ago, the economic recession changed the way farmers farm.

"Farmers just didn't have any reason to want to plant them because they could make more money off blueberry or hazlenuts," Shadle said.

To calm nerves, Shadle said his average tree is only up about $20 in cost, because he didn't want to pass along all the impact to customers wallets.

Shadle said he did something Monday he's never done before. He shipped an entire semi truck worth of his trees to the Los Angeles area. He said tree lots down there are desperate to find trees too, and are willing to pay full price elsewhere.

"California is driving this market," Shadle said.

Tree sellers in California can then up the prices to make a profit themselves.