What You Can Learn from the Christmas Tree Shortage.

What You Can Learn from the Christmas Tree Shortage.

In a recent edition of The Burleson Report, I wrote an article about hindsight and how looking backwards can help uncover bigger trends and assist learning, especially when applied to the future. It was a rather simple assessment of a complex prediction in the rise of the renminbi versus the U.S. dollar. To switch gears but remain in the same mindset, I’ll offer a rather complex look at a simple example: the Christmas tree. 

Over 26 million Christmas trees are produced each year in the United States and Canada. This year, 70% of Canada’s 110,000 snowbirds, who typically migrate to Florida, Arizona and California for the winter, are staying put. As people avoid travel, holiday parties, shopping and dining out, all of the holiday energy is being concentrated at home. It’s now more difficult to find a Christmas tree in Canada and many parts of the U.S. than it was to find toilet paper back in March and April.

Sales of Christmas trees are up 25-40% throughout the United States and Canada but that’s not why it’s so hard to find a tree. Like the example I gave in the The Burleson Report, a little hindsight goes a long way and digging a bit deeper helps piece the puzzle together. Because the perfect Christmas tree takes about 10 years to grow, it’s wise to ask, “What was going on 10 years ago?” 

It turns out higher demand has coincided with lower supply. The 2008 recession put many tree farms out of business and the ones who stayed in business planted fewer trees. The U.S. consumes half of all Canadian Christmas trees. And, bingo. There’s the answer to your math problem and why it’s so stinking hard to find a Christmas tree in Canada right now.

How does this story about Christmas trees apply to your practice? I’m glad you asked, Faithful Reader. This little thought exercise has a lot to do with your practice, where it will be, how it will compete and the position you establish moving forward:

  • What will happen in 12 years when the lowest birth rates in American history result in the opposite economic equation for orthodontists? In 2032, when the average orthodontic patient should be arriving at the orthodontist for treatment, how will lower demand and increased supply affect pricing and competition? 

  • What will happen next year when the first Baby Boomers reach 75 years old and the economic engine continues to shift more power and sway towards Millennials and away from the market segment that has filled restorative dental offices with a steady stream of dental implant, cosmetic dental and all-on-four patients?

With any recent development, it’s not that difficult to look around at the immediate situation and make predictions, like “Christmas trees are hard to find because more people are staying put due to the virus and want to decorate their homes.” But you are smarter than the average bear. Look 5 or 10 years in the past and ask if anything else might have already set up the equation for a predictable outcome today. And the minute you discover something no one else has noticed, do something about it to create and sustain a competitive advantage in your market. 

*I have three powerful strategies these tree farms could have put in play earlier this year to help them have their best year ever and I’ll share those same strategies to help you have your best year ever when you join me for the 2021 Planner Fast-Start training.

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.