Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, when are thy branches cheapest?
For many in the US, Black Friday isn’t just a day to score shopping deals; it’s also the official start to the Christmas season. Families make a tradition out of bundling up, braving the crowds, and enjoying some serious retail therapy. But there is one holiday item you won’t find discounted on Black Friday: Christmas trees.
Square, the credit-card processing firm, looked at 2016 sales data from thousands of Christmas-tree sellers across the US to find out the best and worst time to purchase a tree:
According to Square data, the closer it gets to Christmas, the less you’ll end up paying for a tree. The most popular day to buy a Christmas tree is the Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend (Dec. 2 this year), with the highest prices on Black Friday (average of $66) and lowest on Christmas Eve (average of $30).
Square also compared sales data from tree sellers in different states: California had the most expensive trees, with an average price of $76, and North Dakota was cheapest, with trees averaging just $27.
Sales tend to peak on weekends, with nearly 90% of tree sales occurring by the second weekend in December. So if you want to score a deal, your best bet is to buy a tree in mid-December during the middle of the work week.
There are a few reasons for the decline in tree prices as Christmas nears. One is simple supply and demand: Early shoppers have their pick of the best trees, so the prices drop along with the quality and available selection. Buying a tree two weeks earlier also means two extra weeks of twinkling Christmas lights and the aroma of pine in your living room. So a tree’s price isn’t just a reflection of quality, but also of a premium placed on the “Christmas spirit” that comes with it.
Black Friday is going to be a monster this year—consumer spending is expected to increase by 47% from 2016, according to Forbes. The National Retail Federation estimates that almost 70% of Americans will go shopping during Thanksgiving weekend. Despite the high prices, many of them will buy a Christmas tree.
But if you do wait until the last minute and end up with a Charlie Brown-style tree for Christmas, it doesn’t hurt to remember Linus’s advice: “It just needs a little love.”