BUFFALO, N.Y. — The first day of fall is upon us, but it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas in area stores.
While some say it's too soon for holiday decorations, experts disagree -- especially if you're planning to purchase online. According to the American Christmas Tree Association, consumers could experience a shortage of artificial trees and another décor this holiday season.
"If you're looking for a new tree, you don't want to wait," said Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill out of California. His company -- which makes high-end artificial Christmas trees -- can barely keep up with the demand, and it's only September.
"With the supply chain challenges - when something comes in stock, if you know that's what you want, I would pull the trigger and purchase that to make sure that you get it," Harman said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the U.S. supply chain, making shipping costs 4-times more expensive than last year for retailers. Some holiday décor sellers tell us they're increasing their prices for artificial trees and other products by at least 20%.
Nathan Gordon, CEO of Buffalo-based ChristmasCentral.com, says consumers don't want what happened last year to happen to them again this year.
"You're seeing customers buying earlier than before, and I think a lot of that is because of everything that happened in 2020, where a lot of people, companies were out of stock," Gordon said. "People are trying to get ahead of the curve and buy earlier for the season."
Prior to the pandemic, it would cost Gordon approximately $3,500 for a container to ship Christmas merchandise from overseas to the United States. Now it's costing his company more like $22,000.
"Yes, unfortunately, we will have to raise prices to help compensate for that," he said.
The team at ChristmasCentral.com is already looking ahead to next Christmas.
"We're already starting to submit our orders to our factories overseas for 2022, just in anticipation, trying to get ourselves in the front of the lines for production," he said.
Something else to consider beyond decorations is holiday gifts. A recent survey by CreditCards.com found 27% of holiday shoppers plan to begin buying gifts before the end of September and 13% said they started or planned to start in August.