Demand for Christmas trees is spiking early this year, according to the founder of Europe’s largest tree wholesalers based near Reading.

Supermarkets like Tesco are also expecting 15 per cent more people than in 2020 to buy a tree as “Christmas Tree Saturday” approaches this weekend.

Christopher Hood, director and founder of wholesalers Needlefresh – based in Yattendon, Berkshire, which sell more than 700,000 trees each year – said demand for real trees was increasing every year.

“We are going to have a really good year for real Christmas trees this year,” he said.

Royal Borough Observer: Workers gather and load bundles of Christmas trees, wrapped in plastic netting, on to tractors to be palletised at the Yattendon estate in West BerkshireWorkers gather and load bundles of Christmas trees, wrapped in plastic netting, on to tractors to be palletised at the Yattendon estate in West Berkshire

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“We see people buying trees perhaps a bit earlier than normal and by the beginning of December the thing will have got into full swing and we expect the majority of people to be out looking for their real tree for this year.

“We have seen a significant increase in sales particularly of living pot grown trees which have absolutely taken off in the past three years.

“I think it’s a culmination of what’s going on with Brexit and the fact that generally people have been struggling with Covid, people want to celebrate and they want to find something to enjoy.”

Customer Andrew Seymour, 71, of Aldworth, Berkshire, said that each year he buys a tree early from the Yattendon site to avoid the rush.

Royal Borough Observer: A worker carries wrapped Christmas trees across the yard as they are prepared for market, at the Yattendon estate in West BerkshireA worker carries wrapped Christmas trees across the yard as they are prepared for market, at the Yattendon estate in West Berkshire

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He said: “We always come in the first week of them opening and put it in the garden and normally put it in the house the week before Christmas.

“It’s so pleasant to do it like this to avoid the rush and the choice is really good.

“I think artificial ones are still popular but I think people are buying real trees because they are trying to make the most of the festive season, well the shops are anyway.”

Tesco horticulture spokeswoman Lottie Morrison said: “Over the last few years we’ve noticed bulk sales starting earlier in the festive season with a major increase in shoppers choosing longer-lasting, non-drop Christmas trees like the Nordman fir.

Royal Borough Observer: Seasonal worker Max Tobin checks pallets of Christmas trees, planted in tubs and destined for Tesco supermarkets, at the Yattendon estate in West BerkshireSeasonal worker Max Tobin checks pallets of Christmas trees, planted in tubs and destined for Tesco supermarkets, at the Yattendon estate in West Berkshire

“The trend has become so pronounced and widespread across the whole of the UK that we now refer to the event as ‘Christmas Tree Saturday’.

“This year we are anticipating an even earlier rush – at the end of November – on account of last year’s Christmas party celebrations being cancelled because of the pandemic.

“While most of those early sales will happen on the Saturday we do see a spike across the whole weekend – and the following weekend – as it gives families the chance to enjoy the decorating ceremony together.”