Bonkers Christmas displays are back and cost more than ever

Ho, ho… oh: Inflation and supply chain issues mean it’s more expensive than ever for party New Yorkers to decorate their venues.

The Grinch-style price hikes and empty shelves were especially tough for Joe Mure of Belle Harbor, Queens. Over the past 20 years, the 60-year-old criminal defense attorney and 2018 home decor champion of ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” has transformed his four-bedroom home into a local vacation attraction dubbed ” The small North Pole “.

Last week he invited neighbors for his annual tree lighting which is “better than Rockefeller Center,” he said. The brightest home in the neighborhood, and possibly in the city, the Maison de Mure exhibit is a dazzling feat that requires an army and a commitment of timing to succeed.

It features towering lighting, large gifts, life-size statues of cherubim, and a two-story nutcracker soldier gracing the entrance. There’s also a double turned showcase with a garage with miniature winter scenes depicting Central Park with kids skating, a workshop with Santa and Mrs. Claus knitting – and a workshop with elves busy building toys.

Mure wanted to go especially big with his decorations this year after COVID put the kibosh on holiday gatherings last year. But securing the goods to give his home the Griswold trim was more difficult than ever, he said.

“The [were] a lot of shortages so we made do with what they had, ”Mure said, citing fewer garland colors and lights in stock. “We ordered small things from local places and it was a bit more expensive, but they were very generous and kind to us.”

Port safeguards, a shortage of truckers and rising prices made this decorating season hell.
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Mure admits he got the decorating supplies he needed in part because of his long-standing relationships with local merchants. Others may not be so lucky this year. A combination of port backups of more than a month in Los Angeles, combined with a China operating at 60% capacity due to power outages, created a perfect Christmas decoration storm.

“Electronics and Christmas lights, like most US imports right now, are experiencing massive delays in ports,” said Sal Stile, president of Alba Wheels Up International, a chain management company. New York-based supply and freight. In addition, electronic devices and items containing rechargeable batteries are classified as ‘dangerous goods’ and shipping companies have reduced allowances for moving these types of goods to prevent fire or other incidents. similar do not occur during the trip. “

The Maison des Mures, which is transformed every year into a spectacle of the Petit Pôle Nord.
Despite the struggles, Mure’s electrifying little North Pole drew spectators in to take in the scintillating view.
Stefano Giovannini

And according to the immutable laws of supply and demand, shipping issues mean higher prices for consumers.

“The considerably higher freight costs associated with customs fees have driven up prices,” said Regina Morrow, buyer of Christmas lights, pottery and garden maintenance for Westbury-based Hicks Nurseries.

“Electronics and items containing rechargeable batteries are classified as ‘dangerous goods’ and shipping companies have reduced allowances for moving these types of goods to prevent fire or other similar incidents from occurring. produce during the trip. “

Sal Stile, President of Alba Wheels Up International

The retailer said it needs to pass these price increases on to the consumer over the holiday season, although it said it ordered early so it wasn’t too short on most items.

It’s not just lights and garlands that are harder to find. Even fresh trees are scarce this year.

“Everything seasonal has increased,” said Jen Shaw, 41, who lives on Staten Island with her partner and her partner’s two children, 12 and 9. “The lights. The trees! [Oh my God], for a fresh tree in Bay Ridge, I saw it was over $ 100! The trees cost around $ 70 max! And it was a big tree, ”she said.

Compounding issues like a lack of trucks and drivers to transport the trees – as well as a deliberate decade-long shortage aimed at driving up prices for Christmas trees, due to a previous overabundance of trees – are causing difficulties. for retailers and consumers. likewise, according to George Smith, who owns NYC Tree Shop with four outlets and an online business selling trees and holiday decorations.

Smith has also seen prices skyrocket and supply shrink this year. A truckload of goods from Canada carrying a load of fresh Christmas trees cost $ 4,100 last year; this year it cost $ 11,000. It had to pass on price increases of around 30% to its customers. It also lacks holiday decorations, including treetops and stars.

A group of Christmas celebrants in front of Joe Mure's house.
Despite the drop in supplies, the Christmas spirit is still there.
Stefano Giovannini

“Business is on the rise. There is more demand and prices are rising. Everyone wants a tree, but the prices have tripled, ”Smith said.

But even for a Christmas nut like Mure, it is not the play of light and the balms that make the magic of Christmas. Each year it raises funds for research on juvenile diabetes – so far it has raised over $ 2 million. He even organizes an event for children with special needs.

“[They’re] lovely, innocent kids, and you see the joy and the smile and the sparkle in their eyes, ”Mure said. “It is priceless.”

cha-chingle bells

The price of Christmas, yesterday and today

A man disguised as Santa Claus is holding an electricity bill.
Getty Images / iStockphoto

7.5 foot artificial tree

2019: $ 149

2021: $ 199

Source: Mac Harman, Managing Director of Balsam Brands, a premium artificial tree seller, and the American Christmas Tree Association, a nonprofit business group focused on artificial trees.

A Christmas tree.
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6 foot real tree

2019: $ 77

2021: $ 107

Source: George Smith, Owner of NYC Tree Shop

Light string

A light garland.
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2019: $ 11.99

2021: $ 15.99

Source: LA Times

Average electricity bill

2019: $ 770

2021: $ 935

Source: New York State Department of the Civil Service

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