Artificial trees threaten Christmas market

Realistic artificial Christmas trees are a significant threat to the real tree market, a garden centre director has said.

Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said trees had to be high-quality to compete and suggested alternatives to Nordman fir would be more important in future.

"We've seen a 45 per cent increase in three years in artificial trees," Bunker said at a British Christmas Tree Growers Association conference last week.

"Now you have artificial trees that look almost real. Bayberry Spruce is the best. Artificial trees are getting better and better. Bayberry costs £150 and that works against real trees. If people spend £50-£60 on artificial trees they might decide to get a real one next year. If they spend £150 they are going to keep it for three years."

He added that trees must have growth to the top. "If real trees don't go to the top it creates negativity. They've got to be perfect, with a pyramid shape. Growers are playing into the hands of the artificial market."

Bunker suggested there are better alternatives to Nordman fir, such as Norway Spruce or Fraser firs. "Fraser firs are the future, although they are more expensive to produce," he said.

"They are lemon scented and lovely looking. There are two things a Nordman fir doesn't give you, and they are scent and colour."

He added that growers and retailers must work together much more. "It exists on an individual basis but there isn't much working together happening now," he said.

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