20% of Annual Survey Respondents Are Planning To Buy a Real Christmas Tree for the First Time This Year.

83% of past real tree buyers say they’re “worth it” – regardless of price.

Real Christmas Tree Board releases fresh data on the industry’s sweet-spot consumer,
the one thing recent converts to real Christmas trees regret, what joy smells like, and more.


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HOWELL, Mich., Nov. 1, 2023 – Everyone has their Christmas tradition. For some people, it’s picking out a real tree. For the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTB), it’s the release of the industry’s annual survey of … the people picking out a real tree. 

“All kinds of people love and put up real Christmas trees,” said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board. “But the sweet spot is those in their family-raising and memory-making years. So, we surveyed a representative sample of about 1,500 American adults 21 to 54 to get a quantitative picture of those most likely to be introducing kiddos to their first Christmas traditions, as well as those with older children getting ready to leave home with those traditions and start the cycle over again.”  

Everything is new to somebody.

New this year: 20% of survey respondents overall are planning to buy a real Christmas tree for the first time. Gen Z at 26% and Millennials at 25% are more likely than Gen X at 14% to be first-time buyers. Hispanic respondents are not only more likely than others (40% to 33%) to say they plan on putting up a real tree this year, but they’re also more likely than average (33% vs 20%) to say this will be their first year buying a real tree. (Note, the Hispanic population skews younger overall than the general population.)

Regardless of how you slice the data, though, it’s a good reminder that each year brings a fresh wave of family-starters looking to build memories. And RCTB is here to help, says Gray.

“I encourage first timers to ‘click-a-friend’ if they’ve got a question,” she said. “Our website, RealChristmasTreeBoard.com, is loaded with helpful information, including a guide to different kinds of real Christmas trees, care tips, and a special retail locator.”

Newbies will be in happy company. According to the survey, for the second year in a row, the majority of those who switched from artificial trees to real trees the prior year say they wish they’d done so sooner (84% this year, up from 78% in 2022). 

Also for the second year in a row (and especially significant at a time when media reports have predicted a pull-back in consumer holiday spending), more than 80% of survey respondents selected the phrase “worth it” to describe their thoughts on the price of real Christmas trees (83% in this year’s survey). 

Smells like joy.

What makes it so worth it? The scent, for one thing. According to the survey, the scent of a real Christmas tree actually creates joy: 94% of those planning to buy a real tree agree with the statement, “The scent of a real Christmas tree will bring me joy this season.” And 95% agree, “I believe the scent of a real Christmas tree brings joy to others.” 

(Dear 40% of those surveyed who put up an artificial tree last year but say they’re leaning toward a real tree this year specifically because of the scent: Talk to all those “wish-I’d-done-so-sooners” above.) 

“Joy” is a recurring theme in the survey: 91% of those who switched to a real Christmas tree last year tied it back to raising young families, saying they want their children to continue to experience the joy of having a real tree.

Here a real Christmas tree, there a real Christmas tree, everywhere a real Christmas tree!

A third (33%) of consumers bought their real trees from a Christmas tree farm in 2022. And more than a third (37%) say that’s where they plan to go this year. The second most-popular destination in 2022 was a seasonal Christmas tree lot (23%). “Big box” stores came in third at 14% overall, but people in urban areas were more likely to have shopped there than those in suburban or rural areas (20% compared to 11% each respectively). 

Interestingly, regardless of where they intend to buy, those who live in urban areas are more likely overall to say they plan to buy a real tree this year (44%) compared to those who live in suburban (34%) or rural (36%) settings. 

Nurseries (10%), other local retailers (8%), warehouse clubs (6%), online (5%), or somewhere else (2%) rounded out the various places people went for their real Christmas trees in 2022.

No matter the destination, the survey shows 85% of respondents found the tree they wanted at the first place they shopped last year.

Think everyone’s buying their real Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving? You’re one-third right.

Most respondents typically buy a real tree right after Thanksgiving (33%) or the first week in December (33%). The number drops by half to 16% who buy the second week in December and then falls even more the third week of December (3%). Only 1% of respondents report they buy their tree on Christmas Eve.

Those in urban areas (20%) are more likely than those in suburban (11%) and rural (10%) areas to buy their tree before Thanksgiving. 

The plurality (39%) say their timing is simply a matter of tradition.

Use your power for good.

Here’s a final finding perhaps more for the true believer than the (as yet) uninitiated: If you really want to spread a little joy this holiday, let your real tree flag fly. Among last year’s converts, one in six (16%) of them report making the switch because, “I saw how much fun everyone else has with their real Christmas tree.”



TRUE Global Intelligence (TGI), the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded a survey of 1,499 Americans adults ages 21 to 54 years. All survey respondents either celebrate/observe Christmas or display a Christmas tree. Respondents were required to either decide or share in the decision of whether and what kind of Christmas tree to put up in their home each year or influence their home’s decisionmaker. The survey was fielded from August 21 to September 6, 2023. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.5% and higher for subgroups.


The Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTB) is the media’s expert resource for insights about farm-grown Christmas trees. Chartered in 2015 as the Christmas Tree Promotion Board and renamed in 2022, it is a national research and promotion program whose mission is to share the benefits of fresh Christmas trees with consumers through promotion and public relations, while engaging in research to better serve customers and growers. The USDA provides oversight of the RCTB to ensure transparency, accuracy, and fairness in its communications. The RCTB provides the media and public with accurate information, added insights, and the latest news and inspiration for the season. It represents real Christmas trees sold in the United States and is supported through annual assessments paid by any business growing or importing 500 or more real Christmas trees. This press release was developed and distributed by the RCTB. Search “Real Christmas Tree Board” online and visit RealChristmasTreeBoard.com

National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), founded in 1955, is the national trade association and advocacy organization for the farm-grown Christmas tree industry, leading its public policy/governmental affairs and serving as the “voice of the industry.” NCTA represents hundreds of active member farms, 38 state and regional associations, and thousands of affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related services. Each year since 1966, an NCTA member has presented the official White House Christmas tree to the First Lady, which is displayed in the Blue Room. NCTA is also a trusted media resource on farm-grown Christmas trees.

Please note …

American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) does not represent real Christmas trees or growers. It is a 501(c)(3) corporation established in 2009 and has no known members representing the real Christmas tree industry. Thomas Harman1 is CEO of ACTA and is also the founder and CEO of Balsam Hill, a seller of artificial Christmas trees.2 The majority of artificial Christmas trees are manufactured overseas.3 

1 https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/352342528_201912_990EO_2021042017972245.pdf

2 https://www.balsamhill.com/about-us

3 Data pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Trade in Goods and Services report https://usatrade.census.gov