Christmas trees branching out > live vs fake

Posted On November 15, 2006

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Feeling guilty about not getting a live Christmas tree? Get over it and get one of the latest innovations in holiday fakery, the hyper-realistic polyethylene, or PE, tree.

But you had better do it now, and be prepared to pay: Even though these trees can cost up to $1,000, they’re selling out almost six weeks before Christmas.

It’s yet another uptick in the competition between real and artificial trees for pride of place in homes at Christmas. Many tree aficionados who like the look of real but dislike the messiness and inconvenience are concluding that a PE tree is the way to have their fruitcake and eat it, too.

For instance, the artificial tree has dominated for years, estimates are that 70% of customers opt for artificial. Polyethylene trees and their cousins, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) trees, are both made of plastic, but a PE tree is made of molded plastic, based on branches cut from a real tree. Almost all PE trees are a mix of PE and PVC; the more PE, the more lifelike, and the higher the price.

With most artificial trees, you can instantly look from across the room and know they’re fake, but you have to take a closer look for these, which cater to a high-income consumer. Middle-market consumers also are interested in realism, PVC. But there’s one drawback to a hyper-realistic tree. Because the branches are pliable, they’re less suited to holding heavy ornaments. You can only get maybe 75% of the ornaments you could put on a PVC tree.

But if you’re going for that heavily ornamented look, there’s no point spending money for realism if you can barely see the branches. Well, finally the choice and the taste is yours to decide!

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