Bahamians shopping for a fresh Christmas tree this year may experience a bit of sticker shock, given the increase in the price of the holiday staple.
Prince Albury, who is the owner of Albury’s Christmas Trees and has been selling Christmas trees for 35 years, said a worldwide shortage of Christmas trees, coupled with the increase in value-added tax (VAT) has made the business challenging.
“Just to bring in Christmas trees is challenging,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business.
“Like last year, the shortage of Christmas trees is worldwide, so just trying to bring them down to The Bahamas, is difficult. Everything, prices increased.
“I had to pay VAT, the 12 percent. It felt like 12.5 percent, but I had to pay that on top of everything else. We went through the same thing over the last couple of years. It’s just when you buy your Christmas trees the difficulty in getting them, plus when you get them, you have all this percentage on them, you know. It’s hard.
“Over the years, I try to keep the increase minimal. Because I have some customers who come to me they are consistent; they’re loyal, [and] they come in here looking for a $70 or $80 tree and I don’t have that, and I feel bad.”
Fresh Christmas trees carry a customs duty rate of 35 percent, while artificial trees carry a rate of 45 percent.
In years past, a five-foot tree would cost anywhere from $70 to $80, but now cost upward of $120, according to Albury.
So far, Albury said business has been slow, but he noted that it’s only one week into December.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years, selling Christmas trees, and I’ve seen some changes. You have some people who would buy early, but Bahamians on the whole wait until the last minute. There were one or two coming in the day. The majority come in the night, but this year has been challenging,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, Bahamians are going to buy their Christmas trees, trust me. This weekend should prove how much, you’ll see more people come out. Last weekend was just the first of December, you have to get in that mood. When that mood comes on, it’s a wave. They’re going to have their Christmas tree.”