Many are cutting back on unnecessary holiday spending this year, but one item they’re not willing to do without is the perfect Christmas tree. When it comes to wreaths they try to save some green by going green.

Americans don’t appear to be ready to give up their Christmas trees amid a slumping economy, but they are downsizing to save money. There may be fewer presents under that Christmas tree this year, but it seems few families are giving up the tradition of having a tree.

Retail sales dip to the lowest in 35 years and unemployment hit a 14-year high, Christmas tree sales however holding steady in the gloom, according to growers, sellers and industry analysts.

Sales will stay in line with last year, based on reports from growers. I think people just like to have a Christmas tree; it’s not the most expensive part of Christmas, really.

Last year, Americans bought 31 million natural trees, “The year may end up the same or even a little better than last year, consumers want to keep the tradition, even if other things go by the wayside,” says Linda Gragg, executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association.

Linda Holt bought a tree this year even though she lost her job last year repairing speech devices for the hearing-impaired. Her unemployment checks ran out in March. “I can’t imagine Christmas without a tree,” says Holt, 52, who lives with her daughter’s family in San Jose. “It’s too depressing.”
Retailers ordered fewer trees from growers because of the economy, then ran out and had to order more. Most people say “It wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without a Christmas tree and it has to be a live Christmas tree.”

Although consumers are buying cheaper ones, it’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember to make the annual trek to a nearby tree lot.