This season, be a sap for a real Christmas tree 

Thanks to a viral pandemic, it’s been a disastrous year for brick-and-mortar retailers, from big-box stores to small, independently owned businesses.
And the holiday gift-buying season is poised to deliver another devastating blow to their bottom lines.
Online sales, which already take an ever-increasing share of revenue away from legacy retailers, will siphon away ever more business this year.
An Associated Press report indicated that according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks e-commerce transactions for 80 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. in real-time, the $5.1 billion spent via the Internet on Thanksgiving Day set another record, up 21.5% compared to a year ago.
Black Friday was projected to generate $10 billion in online sales, a 39% jump over last year, while Cyber Monday was expected to remain the biggest online shopping day of the year with $12.7 billion in sales, a 35% spike.
We hope Small Business Saturday offered those beleaguered stores some respite — however brief — from the online onslaught. They’re the backbone of the economy and the country’s major job creators.
However, there does appear to be one annual buying rite of the season that not only will survive, but thrive due the coronavirus-imposed isolation imposed on so many families.
According to published reports, the appetite for actual water-gobbling, sap-oozing, needle-dropping Christmas trees has soared, bucking a downward trend.
Though still early in the evergreen season, both wholesale tree farmers and small cut-your-own lots are reporting strong demand, with many opening well before Thanksgiving.
“We’ve never seen the demand like we’ve had this year,” McKenzie Cook, who ships between 1.8 million and 2 million trees a year combined from McKenzie Farms in Oregon and Happy Holiday Christmas Trees in North Carolina, told the Associated Press.
Businesses say they’re seeing more people and earlier than ever — encouraging news for an industry struggling for market share against increasingly popular artificial trees. Approximately 75% of Americans now prefer artificial Christmas trees over the real thing, and the $1 billion market for fake trees has been growing by about 4% a year.
Some pick-your-own tree farms even have seen customers sneak in well before Thanksgiving to tag the perfect tree to cut in advance. As demand surges, big-box stores stocked fresh trees up to a week earlier than last year, with Walmart offering free home delivery for the first time.
The yearning for that outdoor experience of picking out or cutting down your own tree seems a natural outgrowth of the quarantine mindset that we’ve endured for months.
With holiday parades and festivals canceled, stir-crazy families also are looking for a safe way to create special memories.
And with more of us staying home for the holidays amid pandemic restrictions, it might be the first time in years that many will be around to actually water a real spruce or fir tree.
Now, we have nothing against artificial Christmas trees; they’re infinitely easier to maintain and reuse.
However, in the spirit of this thoroughly COVID-upended season, we suggest buying an actual Christmas tree as a sign of solidarity and hope that a better coronavirus-vaccine world awaits. And while you’re at it, purchase some evergreen wreaths to complete your holiday decor.
Whether it’s from a chain store, tree farm, independent garden center or local lot, go natural this Christmas season.

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