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Artificial Christmas trees cost 70% less than real in decade: report

December 10, 2011 |  8:00 am

Real or fake? It’s a common question in Hollywood, but come the holidays, the debate rages in households across the country.

If cost is the main concern, the American Christmas Tree Assn. recommends artificial. Over a decade, the group said, a pre-lit plastic tree costs 70% less than buying 10 separate, natural trees over the same period.

Consider: A 7-foot-tall artificial tree costs an average of $149, plus $3 for a gallon of gas to haul it home, the association calculates. That's $153. The first year, a real tree of the same height costs $108: $41 for the tree, plus 700 lights costing $49, a $15 tree stand and $3 for the fuel to get to and from the seller. Assuming consumers keep the lights and the stand, the cost builds to $504 over a decade, assuming a $41 yearly cost for a 7-foot tree, based on the 2007 national average, and $3 for a gallon of gas each year.

And that’s just for one tree -- the association says more households are buying multiple trees to decorate different parts of their homes.

At least the cost is more flexible for a real tree, according to SmartMoney. Buyers can haggle with sellers or shop for tree deals online at retailers such as Target and Sears or at daily deal sites such as Groupon.

Or consumers can wait until later in the month when sellers are trying to clear their inventory. The truly ambitious can even get a U.S. Forest Service permit -- which cost as little as $10 -- and chop a tree down in the woods.


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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times