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Posted Date: 01/4/2016

Fir the Love of Trees

Dorothy Creamer, Editor-in-Chief

The fir tree has been used to celebrate winter festivals – both pagan and Christian – for thousands of years. Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Today, the modern Christmas tree can take many shapes, sizes and colors, and fortunately the consumer public continues to clamor for all the options suppliers are providing.

According to a survey of more than 2,500 consumers across the United States, more than half of the respondents (53%) revealed that they display two or more trees in their home during the holidays. The poll conducted by Christmas Lights, Etc. (www.christmaslightsetc.com) found that while nearly half (45%) of buyers still only display one Christmas tree, the numbers of consumers opting for multiple trees is a growing trend as smaller decorative trees are used as accent items as well as full-sized trees in entryways and common areas. Over a quarter (28%) display two trees, 12% display three trees and 5% admitted to setting up four trees within their home.

As for what manufacturers will be introducing for 2016 to meet this high demand of consumers, Selling Christmas Decorations, turned to the supplier community to find out what they predict as top tree trends.

The Natural Look is In
PE trees continue to drive sales due to a more natural, realistic appearance, plus better functionality. “The PE trees are more natural looking, crush-resistant, easier to shape and hold ornaments,” says Katie Acklin, marketing director, Autograph Foliages. “Most of our PE trees are mixed with PVC near the middle pole to cut cost down.”

The concept of a “story book Christmas tree” is where the Red Sleigh Hunter Fir Tree from Wintergreen Corporation was born. “We’ve had customers remark that it looks like it was plucked straight from the forest because it has unique down swept branches uncommon in most other artificial trees,” Frank Skinner, director of marketing, explains. “It has TruTip needles which are designed to be lifelike and full on both sides rather than the one-side branch tips many artificial trees come with.” It is also colored like a live tree with variations between new and old growth as well as small pine cone accents.

LED Leads Tree Sales
When it comes to lighting, LEDs are the way buyers are leaning. “LED lighted trees are definitely on the upswing as they last longer and are more economical and environmentally friendly since they use much less energy and are low voltage,” Danny McDonald, president of Regency International, says.

Acklin concurs, revealing that most Autograph customers ask for LED trees because they want to be able to use them for more than a season or two without relighting trees or repairing them.

Peter Vickerman, president of Vickerman Company agrees that LED lit trees continue to gain on incandescent lit trees. “Now we also offer our Dura-Lit chip technology on our LED trees as we have on our incandescent for years,” he explains.

Technology Trumps All
Sal Puleo Jr., National Tree Vice President, agrees that LEDs continue to be the hot item for trees, however, if the lights have multiple functions, that is even better. “Our Dual Color LED tree bulbs change from warm white multicolor and include a switch to control nine different light actions,” Puleo notes. “The trend toward technology (like our Music Match system, using Bluetooth) and the manufacturers coming up with the ‘next best thing’ will generate interest and sales for trees in 2016.”
 
The Music Match system is for use with National Tree Company trees pre-lit with low voltage LED lights. The system allows music to be streamed from a Bluetooth capable device causing the lights on the tree to “dance” in sync with what’s playing. Light intensity raises and lowers together with sound volume.

Ease Still Pleases
While customers are looking for more functions, they still want the easy set-up they have come to expect from artificial trees. One plug trees, instant shape, and multi-function designs are top trends for 2016.
“Today’s trees offer variety and simplicity for our customers’ busy lives,” said Nathan Gordon, CIO of Gordon Companies, which produces the Northlight brand. 

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