Tree farms, nurseries say Christmas tree sales way up this year

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WAUWATOSA -- According to the National Christmas Tree Association, in 2010, people across the United States spent nearly $1 billion on holiday trees, and many nurseries and tree farms in southeastern Wisconsin say they've seen a dramatic increase in 2011. If you haven't gotten your tree yet, you may be out of luck, as some area nurseries say they're just about sold out.

Cleanup has already begun outside of Hawks Nursery in Wauwatosa, even though Christmas is still about two weeks away. Christmas tree officials attribute the increase in sales this year to positive signs in the economy, and the milder weather we've seen so far this winter. "This year, the Christmas tree sales have been fantastic! We brought in the same number of trees as last year, and last year we had 103 left, and today we're down to two. We're such a seasonal business that when the weather is nice, people come out and shop," Hawks Nursery Owner Joe Kresl said.

Hawks Nursery officials say they've also seen a spike in artificial tree sales. "On our interior trees, sales are up 30 percent for the artificial pre-lit Christmas trees this year, so Christmas definitely came early here at Hawks," Kresl said.

Now, many customers are wishing they would've gotten a head start on their Christmas shopping. "These are way too small. The kids would be in shock if they saw 12 foot ceilings with three inch trees," one shopper said Monday.

Hawks Nursery says come 2012, they plan to be prepared for the rush of tree shoppers. "Next year, I'm planning on buying more. I'll be optimistic that we'll have another good year," Kresl said.