REAL Christmas trees are better for the environment but Irish shoppers prefer their artificial counterparts, retailers have revealed.
Retailers say that early indications this year suggests that artificial Christmas trees have overtaken natural pine, spruce and fir as the nation’s choice.
This comes as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle has urged Irish people to buy real Christmas trees.
Speaking today at Rathcon Christmas Tree Farm, Deputy Doyle said that it is better for the environment to support the real Christmas tree industry.
“I believe choosing a real Irish tree over a plastic tree will be a conscious decision for most Irish families this year.
“Around 600,000 Irish Christmas trees are expected to be harvested this year with a third of these exported mainly to the UK where Irish trees occupy a premium part of the market. Irish consumers can be assured that they are buying the freshest and the best when they buy an Irish tree.
“Real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly, carbon neutral and everyone who buys an Irish tree is supporting Irish farmers and contributing to providing jobs in rural Ireland. At home, we always have a real tree. It would not be the same without one.”
Despite the concern for the environment impact of fake trees, retailers have indicated that they are becoming increasingly popular.
Newlands Home and Garden Centre in Dublin sell an array of real and artificial trees but their Managing Director, Mícheál Devitt, said that the plastic variety is the more popular.
“The trees have been selling well.
“We do both, but we sell a lot more of our artificial trees than we do real. That has historically been the case with us. There is higher value in the artificial.
“I think some people, myself included, just find it so much easier and handier to put up an artificial tree. Artificial trees nowadays are made with materials that make them look so realistic. They have become a lot more realistic looking and they are our best sellers.”
John Brennan, owner of Irishchristmastree.com, agreed with Mr Devitt who said that real Christmas trees are more environmentally-friendly and said they are still more popular with his customers.
“The real trees sell better,” he said.
“I think younger people prefer real trees, older people prefer artificial, because they’re easier to handle.”
Argos management in Blackpool, Cork, shared the opinion that people are buying more artificial trees because of the lack of effort associated with them. While they only sell artificial trees, they are already sold out of certain varieties.
“What we have is selling away nicely. So far the trees are tipping away. I actually had to sell a display tree today because we already didn’t have any of them unopened.
“Personally, I think there’s a lot of hassle [with real trees]. You’re talking about millennials who don’t want to be using a hoover, don’t want to be cleaning up, don’t want the smell of this and don’t want the pine cones falling.
“It’s as easy to buy a tree and dispose of it and with an artificial tree for €20 or €30, they’re not even putting them in the attic anymore, they’re just throwing them out. It definitely will have an environmental effect.”
The 'recovery' is in full swing so, as champions of splurge, Irish people will no doubt spend money accordingly this Christmas. International studies indicate that Irish people spend more at Christmas than other Europeans or Americans. In 2015, mummypages.ie revealed that the average Irish parent spends €254 on presents per child, while 16pc spend up to €600 on each child.