Christmas greenery was in strong demand and ample supply this week, despite some challenges shipping product to market in late November.
“The actual interest in Christmas products at the retail level, it was probably one of the strongest years we’ve seen in many years,” says Stan Vander Waal, president of Rainbow Greenhouses Inc. in Chilliwack. “There didn’t seem to be any real price sensitivity that we could see.”
Shoppers seemed to pick more traditional items this year, with greenery and decorations seeing strong demand. He says poinsettia sales “were relatively steady.”
BC’s Lower Mainland is a prime location for many nursery and greenhouse growers, and the region was largely cut off from the rest of Canada following a series of atmospheric rivers in November. Many growers, including Rainbow, faced challenges shipping product in the initial aftermath of the November rains. Some worried that restrictions would result in product stuck in the Lower Mainland, looking for a home.
That didn’t materialize, says Vander Waal, thanks to the rapid reopening of Hwy 3 on November 19.
“Originally we had trouble moving Christmas stuff out because of the roads,” he says. “We saw a little bit of hurt specifically for that one week, where we had to put everything back down on the floor.”
Now, with the Coquihalla’s reopening on December 20, trucking issues should ease.
“That helps,” says Vander Waal, who also has a greenhouse in southern Alberta. “(But) the Alberta facility is a bit of a struggle because of the highways. … A lot of the drivers don’t want to drive these roads under the current conditions.”
Some operators are factoring risk into their pricing, raising trucking costs. This in turn puts pressure on margins, and could ultimately lead to long-term price increases if trucking costs remain high.