A North East Christmas tree trader has revealed his firm has experienced bumper sales this year as people have rushed to spruce up homes earlier.
Eidelweiss at Double Row, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, is the seasonal sister company of fruit and veg wholesalers Laidler’s Limited.
Director and one of the owners of Laidlers and Eidelweiss, Harry Laidler said that demand for trees was definitely up on last year by 15%.
The firm has increased its stock by 1,000 to 7,000 this year due to rising demand as people spruce up their homes earlier.
The jump in sales is the biggest in the firm’s history with not only trees, but other offerings such as mince pies and mulled wine.
Laidler said: “I think visitors have gone through about 2,000 mince pies this year and at least 1,000 cups of mulled wine. We’ve also seen Santa handing out around 1,000 gift bags to the kids.”
Laidler set up the business initially as an addition to his father’s shop. And at first, he sold around 12 trees a year from Laidler’s site.
He said: “I’ve been involved in the sale of Christmas trees for 30 years now.
My dad used to come back from Gateshead fruit and veg market with maybe 12 Norway spruce trees but used to complain that he didn’t have time to sell them.
“As a young lad I said ‘Well I’ll sell them’ because you are excited about Christmas when you’re younger.
“I used to take great pride and pleasure in trying to sell them. And dad was delighted as he had nothing to do with them because he was too busy selling the fruit and veg – and they used to take too much space in his wagon!”
Back then Laidler recalls there was only the Norway spruce available, and it was a number of years before the Scotch pine and Lodgepole pine became popular – because they didn’t drop their needles.
He added: “Definitely within the last 15 years, the Nordman has been the most popular.”
Laidler has invested £22,000 in setting up the Eidelweiss shop in 2000 with his wife, Dawn.
He now employs around 10 to 12 staff at weekends and about six during the week.
The main store, which has a multi-million pound turnover, employs around 30.
He said: “I’d say the worst thing about selling Christmas trees is the wind that blows them over! You have to keep picking them up.”
Laidler added: “People are definitely buying them earlier and this year has definitely proved that. It all seems to depend on what day Christmas falls on.
“This year we were finding people were buying them before December.
“We were just setting up on November 27 and 28 and we had queues outside with people asking if they could buy one early. We didn’t officially open until the 29th, but we still sold them!”
Laidler said from what he has seen, sales of trees has certainly risen over the last 12 years by around 10 per cent.
He said: “Our main growers are in Southern Ireland, but we also get trees from Denmark, Norfolk, Scotland and a small amount from Cumbria.
“We actually visit the plantations in the growing season and are in contact with our growers in April. You have to get in early to get the quality.
“It’s been one of the best years we’ve ever had, and we’ve been on the Eidelweiss site now for two years with a purpose-built shop. The shop has definitely made an impact.
“However, I couldn’t do without my shop manager, Kelly Tweddle, who has been with the business now for more than 10 years.”