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Is Costco Doing Away With Live Christmas Trees?

Last year’s shortages took their toll on this year’s supply.

It's part of the Thanksgiving ritual: once you get through the leftover turkey and mashed potatoes, it's time to start looking forward to the next cherished celebration. And for many, that means trimming the Christmas tree.

And if you normally hunt for that fresh-cut pine to hold your ornamental bulbs, tinsel, and lights at Costco, you might need to search elsewhere. Supplies have been tight since last year, and it seems like you'll be out of luck at most member-only warehouses again this year.

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But is this the new normal? With the sparse offerings at most locations, it appears that Costco could be getting out of the live Christmas tree game—and shoppers have taken notice. Some have even contacted their regional stores to ask about availability and found out the disappointing news.

"I just called my local warehouse… and they confirmed they aren't selling live trees this year," Reddit user u/sonofhondo posted. "This is the second year running they haven't had live trees in our neck of the woods (north Texas)."

This isn't the first time that consumers have found themselves searching high and low for a live tree to deck their halls. In 2021, shoppers faced shortages of Christmas trees at retailers like Costco and Kroger due to a barrage of supply chain issues. Record numbers of heat waves, droughts, and forest fires disrupted production on the West Coast, causing Oregon farmers to lose 90% of their yield, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).

Costco did not respond to our request for comment, but we inquired with a few local warehouse locations about their tree situation. One employee told us that fresh trees would be a rare sighting this year, but he didn't know if they'd be permanently discontinued.

"No trees are supposed to be sold..because of the shortage last year. They have to let them grow back," he explained. "It's possible they'll be back in a few years." He also mentioned that a few Costcos may have trees, but only if the location is close enough to the company's tree farm to get any remaining stock.

Others on Reddit reported hearing similar updates. "Indiana here. We didn't carry them the last two years and we won't carry them this year either. It's been said it's a supply chain issue and lack of availability," commented u/drubhub.

While you may not be able to snap up a real tree from your nearest Costco, there are a couple of alternatives. For one, you could pick up an artificial tree at the bulk retailer's discounted price. The warehouse sells a few models with remote-controlled LED lights already attached, from trees that span 4-feet for $79.99 to ones that reach 7.5-feet for $499.99. One of these will last you for countless holiday seasons, with little maintenance required and a guaranteed return policy.

The downside, perhaps counterintuitively, is that imitation Christmas trees can be more detrimental for the environment than live trees. According to a recent report by CNN, unless you're planning to reuse your artificial tree for decades, real trees are the climate-conscious choice.

The better option for the environment? Keep the tradition alive and shop at a local farm for a live tree, bearing in mind this will likely cost more due to short supply. If you have your heart set on a real one, now is not the time to procrastinate. Co-owner of a Philadelphia Christmas tree farm, Jay Bustard, told Fox 29 that customers should pick out their trees early if they want one, and be prepared to shell out around 5% to 15% more, depending on the tree.

Because Christmas trees take about seven years on average to grow to size, it may take a few more years before supply makes a full comeback. So if you're going to make the investment in an artificial tree, you might choose to do that sooner rather than later.

For items that Costco is dropping permanently, you can check the list of recently discontinued products here.

Sarah Wong
Sarah studied at Northwestern University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and experimented with mixing tech and journalism. Read more about Sarah
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