While most customers reported brisk sales, nice trees, accurate tree counts, and on time deliveries last Season, their inability to receive quantities of trees needed affected bottom lines, and was worsened by a lack of local wholesale supplies. Many were forced to close early, turning away customers. Today’s growers are more conservative than in the past. They have learned to limit their planting to what they know they can sell, as opposed to earlier days of speculation and high hopes. Some are slowly increasing planting, but the shortage will continue for some time.
A common complaint was in the overall decrease in sizes offered, compared to previous years. Substituted sizes and/or species on customer deliveries made for some unhappy retail customers. Growers are faced with continually decreasing labor supplies, and ever increasing operating expenses. These factors influence today’s growers planting and harvesting decisions. The decrease in sizes offered is a reflection of this.
Our growers have informed us that they believe they will be able to supply us with about the same overall quantities as last year, but doubt that they will be able to increase our supply this year. We don’t know what specific availability for sizes, grades, and species will be yet.
During our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest Christmas tree growing region, we visited a farm that operates a wholesale yard in the Los Angeles area. We hope to start a relationship with them this year. This could provide our customers with opportunities to pick up additional trees when and if needed. We are in the process of getting specifics on species, sizes, prices, etc.
Getting orders to the farms early was key for us to secure trees on your behalf. Growers typically grade and tally into the Fall, and can’t send us their actual inventories until they have finished, however. It is not until then that we realize the discrepancies that exist between customer order requests and farm actual availabilities, and make adjustments. Some feel that since they already signed agreements and paid deposits that coincide with their original orders/invoices, they should be entitled to receive those exact trees. Getting our orders in early is simply how we make our needs/requests clear to growers, and we can’t place order requests for trees on our customer’s behalf without first getting firm commitments from them. We are updating our Purchasing Agreement to further explain this.
Landed costs for trees did not appear to be an issue for our customers this year. Two growers that we recently met with confirmed that they will be raising prices again this Season. One said he won’t. The others haven’t commented yet.
If we draw on individual shortfalls that customer’s incurred last Season, we hope to make improvements on them this year. By sending us an email ahead of the Season outlining how, when, and why your business and/or customers were negatively impacted last Season, we will be able to address it ahead and in a much better manner this year. Thank you to those that have already done so.