Real Christmas trees a tall order this year

SAM BOYER CONSUMER AFFAIRS
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2012

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Forget the frankincense and myrrh - this year's exotic gift looks like being the $100 Christmas tree.

Pop-up stores are expecting to be busy this weekend as buyers head out in search of the centrepiece for Christmas decorations.

But the best ones are likely to come at a price. Fresh'n'Bushy Christmas Trees and Real Xmas Trees, which together have several pop-up stalls around the Wellington region, are charging about $10 a foot.

The average buy, they say, is around 6-7ft, though the biggest and best top out at 10ft, or $100.

Chrystal Campbell, from Fresh'n'Bushy Christmas Trees, said the silly season had already gripped the region and the trend was for large trees.

"People are going big. We're pretty much selling out of our big Christmas trees. We're in full swing."

Tree salesman Sam Mills, 23, of Real Xmas Trees, said: "It's going to be huge this Saturday and Sunday.

"As December comes, everyone looks to put off Christmas, but I think we all sort of cave about 10 days in. I think it'll be chocka."

Many of the customers were young families, with small children helping to choose the best tree, he said.

But a good proportion of buyers were also busy fathers, searching frantically on their way from work for a tree worthy of the family.

"It's usually a family affair . . . and the kids are frothing," Mr Mills said. "Or it's a dad under pressure to get a good tree - seriously, they come in in cold sweats."

Last year, the first Saturday of December was a record day for sales. But this year, the first weekend was quieter, because it fell early in the month, and the weather was bad.

For those not prepared to fork out $100, there are alternative options.

The Warehouse has a range of fake trees, ranging up to its tallest one - 210 centimetres, or about 7ft - for $40.

TreatMe this week sold 1 metre-high delivered pohutukawa trees for $25, which could be used in a pot this Christmas before being planted in the new year.

Plywood and cardboard trees can also be found.

And for those wanting to save space and mess, Christmas tree posters might be an option.

But the traditionalists would need to pay if they wanted quality, Mr Mills said.

Uglier trees - that were patchy, had bald spots or rogue branches - were cheaper, and buyers could haggle over price.

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- The Dominion Post

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