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Christmas Trees

Your Christmas tree will likely set you back a bit more this year. Here's why.

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By TAGGART HOUCK, WPDE

CONWAY, S.C. (CIRCA via WPDE) — One week after Thanksgiving and the focus has already shifted to those large, green trees.

The Christmas season is upon us.

Vendors across the nation have set up shop and are already seeing to a steady stream of customers.

"We don't do Black Friday shopping, we like to shop for our tree," said Sheri Formosa-Coppola, who went with her son, Vinnie, to pick out this year's tree.

Every year, they head to the Goodman's Tree Farm stand in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and pick the Fraser Fir tree.

"It's just fun to have a whole month of it just being up in the house," said Formosa-Coppola.

The farm's owners get the Fraser Fir trees from the family farm in North Carolina. But this year, there's a shorter supply.

"When we went through the recession back in 2007, a lot of growers, small growers of the Fraser Fir variety, stopped growing trees," said Lauren Booth, an owner at Booth's Christmas Tree Farm in Conway, South Carolina.

Those growers stopped, she said, because they couldn't afford it.

Even though that was in 2007, those types of trees only grow about a foot each year.

"Because it's been 10 years, we are now seeing the effects on that," Booth said.

Which means she and her staff have to order trees for the following season in January. They grow other Christmas trees, but not the Fraser Fir.

Since the supply hasn't been keeping up with demand, it's forced her and other sellers, like the folks at Goodman's, to raise prices by as much as 15 percent over last year's.

"We've had some people saying, 'Oh, I've never seen tree prices this high,'" Booth said. "But we haven't either. We've been buying Fraser Firs, like I said, for 28, 29 years."

Booth told Circa sister station WPDE-TV there's a good chance the prices could stay high for four more years.

"We've tried to keep [the trees] fairly stable with last year's prices, which did see an increase there, too, and they will continue to go up a little bit each year because of that shortage," she said.

But crowds haven't seemed to mind the prices. In fact, both spots remain full of families, like Jennifer Mundy and her son, Abe.

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"It's worth it to me because [the tree] does last. It lasts all through Christmas and we enjoy our tree every year," said Mundy.

Booth said her farm also lost 300 to 500 trees after flooding from Hurricane Florence. She said that shouldn't directly affect business for at least a few more years, though.

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