For many of us, the annual visit to the Christmas tree lot happens immediately after the Thanksgiving festivities—sometimes even before the leftovers are gobbled up. Buying your tree as early as possible means you'll have your pick of the inventory. But if you're trying to score a deal this year (and maybe you don't mind a tree with a few bare spots), it might be worth it to hold off on buying for a few weeks.
Mobile payment company Square teamed up with the National Christmas Tree Association to determine the best time of year to buy a Christmas tree if you're trying to save money. They analyzed the past four years of sales data from thousands of Christmas tree farmers and sellers across the country and found when prices rose—and when they fell.
Most expensive day to buy a Christmas tree
Hands down the most expensive day to buy a tree is Cyber Monday. Sales data shows that Christmas tree prices start off high on Black Friday, when the average cost of a tree is $79. By Cyber Monday, the price increases to $84.
When to buy to save a buck
Of course, Christmas trees lose their value as the holiday itself approaches. A tree for sale on Dec. 26 is practically worthless. So it stands that the cheapest day to buy a Christmas tree is on Christmas Eve.
If you're happy to go without a tree until then, you can snag one the night of Santa's visit for as little as $50, says Sara Vera, a data analyst at Square. However, if you're looking for a decent-quality tree at a reasonable price, try pinpointing the week before Christmas.
"For those that want to hold out for the best deals, we see a seasonal savings of almost 30% for those who purchase the week before Christmas," says Vera.
Location can also dictate a Christmas tree's price. The trees you find in a lot are grown from seed, taking about 10 years to reach full size. After the firs are harvested, they are wrapped in netting and shipped to vendors across the country. So the closer you live to a tree farm, the cheaper it is to ship the trees to you, which could contribute to a tree's lower price.
Similarly, smaller trees cost less because they usually spent less time growing to maturity, says Tim O'Connor, executive director of the NCTA, which is based in Littleton, CO.
Price varies by region
Square data also shows that trees purchased in the South are the most expensive, coming in at an average of about $99 while trees in the Midwest are just $73 on average.
Prices also range depending on the variety of trees and where in your area you choose to buy a tree. In general, Fraser firs are the most expensive while noble firs are the most affordable.
Michael May, owner of Lazy Acres Farm, in Chunky, MS, says the trees grown on his farm are priced according to height. For example, a 6- to 8-foot tree ranges in cost from $46 to $60.
"The taller the tree, the more of an investment for the farmer and therefore the higher the price tag," he says.
Taking care of your tree
The average tree will stay fresh and green in your home for up to three weeks, depending on when it was cut and purchased, according to O'Connor.
So you want to select a tree that looks green and fresh with soft, pliable needles. Once you've selected your tree, ask to have a small round of the trunk trimmed off with a chain saw. This will help the tree absorb water and stay fresh.
At home, keep your tree away from south-facing windows, fireplaces, or heating ducts which might dry it out. Keep the basin in your tree stand full of water to keep the needles from turning brittle; never let the water level dip below the base of the tree.
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By: Realtor.com, Kristine Gill