Higher prices for the tallest Yuletide trees

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O Christmas tree thy leaves may be so unchanging – but thy price is not. In fact, the cost of some traditional yuletide firs has risen sharply this year, according to growers.

Increasing demand for tall trees coupled with a shortfall in supply has seen prices soar by £10 or more. Roger Hay, chairman of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, said the market was being hit by a shortfall in the number of trees planted in previous years.

"There has been a shortage in Europe since 2004 and 2005 and one of the consequences is that trees are inclined to be cut as soon as they reach a saleable height of five or six foot," he said. The shortage was due to changes in subsidy policies in exporting countries such as Denmark and Ireland.

While smaller trees retailing at between £30 and £40 are only showing a £1 or £2 increase this – due to rising VAT and fuel costs – 7ft trees are expected to command between £5 and £10 more, and an eight-footer at least £10 extra. The tallest 12ft specimens can now cost up to £99.

Today Britain imports only 500,000 of the annual 8.5m trees bought each year.