Survey Says ’Tis The Season To Switch!

89% of people who previously bought artificial Christmas trees and switched to a real Christmas tree last year wish they had made the change sooner.

HOWELL, Mich., Nov. 1, 2021 – Americans are eager for more celebrations, more decorations and more real Christmas trees this year, according to a new survey from the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTP). The survey reveals plenty of optimism from consumers and plenty of encouraging news for real tree growers as people make their way through a second year of merriment mixed with COVID-caution.

The big news? Converts from artificial to real trees last year loved it and aren’t looking back. In fact, 97% of those who previously bought artificial Christmas trees and switched to a real Christmas tree in 2020 agreed that they enjoyed the experience, and nearly 90% wish they had started purchasing a real Christmas tree sooner.

The RCTB commissioned the survey of consumers in advance of the 2021 holiday season to learn about their attitudes, opinions, purchase intent and other behaviors related to celebrating the holiday as the country continues to adapt to the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what it learned:

  • 80% of respondents expect Christmas to be different this year compared to 2020.
    • The biggest anticipated differences are having more parties and get-togethers (51%), putting up more decorations (51%), and celebrating with more people than usual (49%).
    • Approximately half of all respondents who think Christmas will be different this year say the differences make them more likely to put up a real Christmas tree.
  • 58% of respondents feel more optimistic about properly celebrating Christmas this year.
  • More than half (54%) of Americans planning to buy a real Christmas tree this year point to its natural scent and the experience of decorating it as their favorite aspects of having a real Christmas tree.
  • 41% of real tree buyers are concerned about being able to get the tree they want this year, which may prompt earlier-than-normal purchases. The most popular times they plan to buy a real tree are post-Thanksgiving weekend (30%) and the first week of December (32%).

“It’s wonderful to see the data on how much people like it when they switch to a real tree,” said Carrie McClain, second-generation Christmas tree producer. “But I’m not surprised. My family has been growing Christmas trees since 1976, so I know first-hand that real Christmas trees can make good memories even in difficult times. They bring people together and build traditions. But at the same time, every tree is different, so every year is different. That’s the beauty of sharing the season with something natural. Best of all? They literally smell like Christmas!”


A visual tree guide provides a close-up look at the 20 most popular types of real Christmas trees and a Retail Locator with an interactive map and search filters can help people find a real Christmas tree no matter where they live or like to shop. It’s especially helpful for those who may be looking for a way to support local businesses.


About the Research

TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded a survey of 1,502 American adults ages 21 to 49 years. All survey respondents celebrate or observe Christmas and 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 May 7 to May 17, 2021. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.2% and higher for subgroups.

Real Christmas Trees and the Environment

Real Christmas trees come from the earth and return to the earth; they are biodegradable, so they can be recycled or reused for mulch. Like other crops, real Christmas trees are grown to be harvested, just like pumpkins for Halloween or salad ingredients for dinner. There’s no harm in taking them home. In fact, research shows that real trees are much friendlier to the environment compared on an annual basis to artificial trees, which have a life span of six years. Artificial trees have three times the impact on climate change and resource depletion.1 For every real Christmas tree farmers harvest, they plant at least one new tree.

Know Your Sources

  • Established in 2015, the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTP) 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 our customers and growers. The USDA provides oversight of the RCTB to ensure transparency and accuracy in its communications. This press release was developed and distributed by the RCTP.
  • The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) is the national trade association representing the real Christmas tree industry. It represents the real Christmas tree community with one voice to protect and advocate on the industry’s behalf. NCTA represents more than 700 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 4,000 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related supplies and services.
  • The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) is a 501(c)(3) corporation run by CEO Thomas Harman.2 Harman is the founder of Balsam Hill, a seller of artificial Christmas trees.3 The majority of artificial Christmas trees are made overseas.4


Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of an Artificial Christmas Tree and a Natural Christmas Tree; Ellipsos, Montreal, Quebec, 2009; pages 6-8.