The UK is facing a shortage of real Christmas trees this year due new legislation which will push up red tape and importation costs. For the first time this year, Christmas trees over three metres in height will require a ‘Plant Passport’ to enter the UK.
This new legislation, introduced to protect UK woodland against the risk of pest and insect infestations that importation of plants can cause, will drive up the costs of giant Christmas trees by around 200%.
The UK market is heavily reliant on Christmas tree imports, with £3 million-worth of real trees imported last year alone, most commonly from Denmark, Belgium and France.
This, combined with ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, is expected to have a huge impact on the availability of large trees for 2019 as costs continue to increase.
Businesses seeking giant Christmas trees for their premises in the lead up to Christmas will be hardest hit by the introduction of this new tax.
In response to the increasing costs attached to importing real trees, leading Christmas Tree supplier, Christmas Tree World has reported an 40% increase in sales for their giant artificial Christmas trees in the retail sector year on year.
Stephen Evans, managing director at Christmas Tree World commented: “This new legislation is adding additional costs and pushing up red tape on real trees, but it’s great to see the government taking steps to protect our woodland from the danger of insects and disease.
“As Brexit looms closer, there is so much uncertainty about importation costs, so the expense of real Christmas trees is only going to rise further until we are certain of the outcome. New plant passports will make importing more bureaucratic, expensive and challenging as it remains very unclear.
“Increased importation costs are likely to cause a shortage of giant Christmas trees this year, so as a result of this limited stock, people are looking for alternative options.
“With an artificial Christmas tree, the worry of plant passports and fungal infestations isn’t there. Instead, you’re able to have a realistic tree which is safe and easy to dress, avoiding the stress and worry that accompanies a real tree."