Sales of Christmas trees are seeing a strong start this year as orders come in early to secure limited stock, according to growers.
A drop in the number of trees planted eight years ago has meant that supplies this year are limited and prices are high.
Growers at Four Oaks reported strong interest and Christmas trees at the Groen-Direkt Autumn Fair in the Netherlands in August sold out earlier than usual.
Bolton Christmas Trees director Jamie Arden said: "Sales are very buoyant this year. There is a shortage of the bigger trees - they are scarce and very expensive. People who don't get in early are going to lose out, so there's a bit of a scramble.
"Orders are coming in a lot sooner than usual. There is not enough to supply demand. British-grown stock is becoming exhausted and I don't know of any nurseries that have surplus. It's only in Denmark where surplus trees are available."
He added that taller trees were particularly hard to get hold of. "Tree prices have been high for the past few years and trees over 175cm are very expensive," he said.
"Some are normally left to get taller for the following year, but prices were so high last year that people were selling them instead, meaning that the tallest trees this year are in very short supply."
Forest Fresh managing director Ian Dyson added: "It's looking okay for sales, but the trees are very short. People stopped planting eight years ago and now there is a shortage across Europe. We've got trees, but there's a limited supply."
Grower Joseph Noblett is aiming to expand the market and targeting florists with a new line of boxed Christmas trees. They take five years to grow and are supplied with easy-to-carry packaging, making them ideal impulse purchases. They have already proved a success in Europe and North America.
Noblett explained: "To expand the market you have to look at a new marketplace and this is one that hasn't previously been able to handle Christmas trees, which we've been able to tame."
"We are more or less sold out. Four Oaks has been excellent and we've had our usual customers returning and new ones coming. We have had a lot of enquiries, but we haven't got the stock available, and you can't sell what you haven't got. We've planted four-million trees in Scotland over the past few years and they will be ready in three or four years, so we'll be okay then. The shortage is a problem and there are about 2,000-3,000 trees that we can't get. We're having to buy from Denmark and Poland. In eastern Europe the market is growing dramatically and a lot of Danish trees are going there. There has been a big hike in prices - a 10 per cent increase."
Martin Coward, sales manager, Eden Park