Cost of celebrating Christmas might climb this year

Planning on decorating for Christmas this year?

Well, it might be a little more expensive if you’re buying a fresh Christmas tree, or holiday lights – and it’s not the Grinch who’s to blame for the rising price tags.

President Trump’s $200 billion in tariffs on imported Chinese goods happen to include taxes on almost all holiday lights sold in the U.S., 85 percent of which are manufactured in China, according to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, an advocacy group for free trade.

Nearly all of the Christmas lights that millions of Americans string up around their homes in December are imported, according to the group, because there are no major U.S. Christmas light manufacturers. Caught in the middle of an increasingly tense trade spat – and already subject to an 8 percent tariff – holiday lights will now have an import tax of 18 percent.

And with no end in sight to the tit-for-tat trade fight, lights could become even more expensive next year, when a whopping 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods goes into effect, bringing the overall tax rate to 33 percent.

That’s on top of a Christmas tree shortage across the country that’s forcing a rise in the cost of yuletide firs and spruces. It’s largely a side effect from the financial recession in 2008, which drove many Christmas tree farmers out of business because of a glut in supply, according to the Miami Herald.

And because it takes so much time to replenish the stock – a tree has to grow for about eight to 10 years before it’s ready to be cut and adorn someone’s home -- the supply is still pretty tight.

American consumers are expected to buy about 27 million fresh trees this year, about the same amount as the past two years, according to the National Christmas Association. Prices will likely be a bit higher this year, compared to the average retail price in 2017 of about $75, the association’s director, Tim O’Connor, told The Associated Press.