Dec 18, 2019

Christmas trees are sparse this year

Tommy Speer helps a customer pick out a Christmas tree at Speer Family Farms in Alameda, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Demand for Christmas trees plummeted during the recession 10 years ago, so tree growers scaled back planting. Tree demand bounced back, but supply didn't.

Why it matters: Buyers are paying more for trees due to the shortage. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average price of a tree was $36 in 2008. The price spiked to $78 in 2018.

  • The average Christmas tree takes seven years to grow to a typical height, per the association, though some varieties can take up to 15 years. Fraser firs, a popular variety for Christmas trees, take about 10 years to mature.

The big picture: Drought conditions have also made growing more difficult. "We lose quite a few there because they dry out and die," Richard Kreh, who grows and sells Christmas trees in Stuart, Virginia, told ABC-13 WSET.

Yes, but: Despite the higher prices, business is booming as shoppers scrambled to find a tree this year.

  • The shortage is expected to be short-lived. Ronnie Richardson of Whitetop, Virginia, told the Bristol Herald-Courier. "The supply will be back in just a few years."

Go deeper: Tight supply is driving a rise in Christmas tree prices

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Pittsburgh synagogue shooter appealing death sentence

Photo: Justin Merriman/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Lawyers for Robert Bowers are challenging his potential death sentence as unconstitutional as he waits for a trial date, AP reports.

Context: Bowers is charged with killing 11 people and injuring 6 others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. His lawyers argue the death sentence violates the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause and the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, AP writes.

Go deeper: Pittsburgh passes gun restrictions following Tree of Life Synagogue shooting

Keep ReadingArrowDec 28, 2019

Household income stagnates as home prices soar

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Despite a robust economy and low unemployment, household income hasn't changed much in the past 20 years.

Go deeperArrowDec 31, 2019

Exclusive: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.

Driving the news: O'Brien sat down with Axios at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday to talk about a range of national security challenges at the start of a new year.

Go deeperArrowJan 12, 2020 - World