Christmas trees: how the costs of the real, the fake and the jar stack up | Christmas

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isIt will be a Christmas like no other this year. Yet installing and decorating the Christmas tree remains one of our most treasured festive rituals and in the quest for “normalcy” we are buying them sooner than ever.

During the second lockdown, garden centers were allowed to open and flourished, while sales have skyrocketed for specialist ‘on-farm’ vendors in England since the government eased restrictions over the weekend. end last and considered them to be “essential” retailers.

Supermarket chain Waitrose predicts this will be its biggest fresh Christmas tree launch weekend, with nearly 40% of its stores taking all of their stock before 1 December to meet the expected demand.

Christmas tree sales continue despite the Covid lockdown in England. Photographie: James Veysey / Rex / Shutterstock

Oliver O’Mara, her Christmas tree buyer, says: “Buyers are definitely getting into the Christmas spirit sooner than ever. Our biggest deliveries of real trees are usually in early December, but we have brought forward a few orders to meet expected demand. “

At John Lewis, sales of fresh trees this week are almost three times (176%) more than the same time last year. For the first time, it offers buyers looking for an artificial tree a new “augmented reality” feature on its IOS application which will allow them to set up a decorated virtual Christmas tree in a few seconds. This feature will give customers the option to try before they buy, putting an end to the traditional guessing game of hoping the tree will fit into the room.

From false to fresh, how do the costs add up?

Fresh

The ‘king’, and most popular in the UK, is Nordmann fir, with its lush, dark green bushy branches and fresh pine aroma. It also has a wide base to accommodate gifts and child-friendly soft needles that are slower to fall than a traditional Norway spruce.

According to Lee Chambers, sales manager at Lovania Nurseries, a fresh Nordmann tree should last up to a month if it is not allowed to dry out. “When you bring it home for the first time, cut off a few inches from the base of the trunk and put it in a bucket of water overnight,” he advises. “Choose a cool place with plenty of space, preferably away from heaters, as this can dry out the needles prematurely. “

Typical cost: If price, rather than convenience, is your priority, you will need to shop around. The British Christmas Tree Growers Association is urging buyers to support local businesses. Its website, bctga.co.uk, will show you where to buy locally.

Nordmann firs at the barn in the trees at Common Christmas, Oxfordshire
Nordmann firs at the barn in the trees at Common Christmas, Oxfordshire. Photographie: Geoffrey Swaine / REX / Shutterstock

Among the cheaper cut versions from major retailers is Aldi’s, which went on sale in its 895 UK stores this week, with prices starting at £ 14.99 for an average tree (1.5m to 1, 75m / 5-6ft) and £ 24.99 for a large tree (1.8m-2.1m / 6-7ft). They are cultivated in Aberdeenshire for up to 10 years and for every tree felled four are planted. B&Q Cut Nordmanns are a bit more expensive at £ 19 for 1.2m – 1.5m (4-5ft), £ 29 for 1.5m – 1.75m (5-6ft) and £ 39 for 1.8m – 2.1m (6-7ft). This year, for the first time, it keeps its promises. Standard delivery is £ 5 but free for orders over £ 50.

Ikea’s Christmas Tree Refund Offer is back for the ninth year. Launched last week at participating stores, customers can buy a real Nordmann for £ 29 and receive a £ 20 Ikea voucher to spend in the New Year.

It is worth checking the terms and conditions when purchasing, although your rights are on par with other perishable products such as fresh cut flowers. If it perishes despite the fact that you have followed the instructions and can prove that it is not “fit for purpose” or “of satisfactory quality”, then under the law on consumer rights , you should be entitled to an exchange or a refund.

Depending on the size and weight, you may want to purchase a metal stand to prop it up, with a built-in water tank. Don’t forget to charge it. Rustic-style wicker “skirts” are also popular but can be expensive.

Faux

Balsam Hill
The White Company’s line of fake trees are expensive but look like the real thing. Photographie: The White Company

Artificial trees were once a wire frame with a bit of garlands attached, but modern tree technology has taken a leap forward and uses injection molding to create lifelike strands. Even up close, the more expensive artificial ones can trick most consumers into believing they are real.

However, they’re still plastic, create high emissions to manufacture and transport, and will eventually end up in landfill (usually made from PVC, they’re nearly impossible to recycle). They should be used for up to nine years to have less impact on the environment than natural alternatives.

Typical cost: There are some good deals. Balsam Hill, for example, has a sale on its extensive range, offering an unlit 4ft (1.2m) tree for £ 99, down from £ 159. There is a 25% discount on artificial trees in Argos – many are ideal for small spaces. His 6-foot slender shaft, which typically costs £ 25, is a draw for £ 18.75. The White Company’s 9ft fake Nordmann Christmas tree is state of the art with a price tag of £ 850.

Mass and pot

Potted trees are cute and great for small spaces, but check what you are buying. They are grown from seeds in pots that are dipped into the ground, which growers say offers a number of benefits. The plant is more stable and, thanks to specially designed holes in the pot, it stays cooler and has more constant root temperatures. These are different from potted or “pressed-in” trees in which the root system is pruned – often abruptly – reducing the chances of survival.

Typical cost: Aldi is home to the cheapest pot-grown Nordmann at £ 18.99. Waitrose has a ‘tabletop’ version in a 16cm pot, on sale for £ 19.99.

Rent

You can rent a tree for three weeks during the holiday season – delivered and picked up from your home – which is a way to avoid the massive trash and January Christmas tree “graveyards” that litter city centers. . It can also be slightly cheaper than buying.

Typical cost: Typical charges are around £ 55 for three weeks, plus a £ 20 deposit and £ 20 delivery / collection.

Sustainable Christmas trees for sale on the Duivenvoorde estate, Voorschoten, The Netherlands
A sustainable option is to buy a tree that can be replanted at the end of Christmas. Photography: Robin Utrecht / Rex / Shutterstock

Sustainable options?

Environmentally conscious consumers can gift loved ones with a real tree – a tree planted in an area of ​​the world threatened by deforestation. Ecosia, the ethical search engine that uses advertising revenue to plant trees, this week opened a pop-up store that offers shoppers a number of options ranging from restoring the slopes of the volcano in Nicaragua to planting trees. fruit trees to relieve hunger in India. The recipient will receive a certificate outlining the cause and details of the trees purchased.

Typical cost: Each tree costs £ 2 and can be bought in sets of five, 10, 20 or 40. Buyers will have one month before Christmas to buy. The buyer has three product options: protect wildlife habitats, fight hunger or fight climate change

Go biological

Christmas trees suffer from pest problems similar to many crops, so pesticide use is often high. Trees cannot technically be certified organic because the standards do not cover wood. It is worth looking for Trees certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)because they are grown responsibly and often minimize the use of pesticides.

If possible, source from an independent organic retailer or farm storebecause they are more likely to opt for total avoidance of pesticides.

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