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2002-12-17
Portland, ME. O Christmas Tree, how lovely are thy profits.

David Glass, former Wal-Mart CEO, testifying against the merge of Office Depot and Staples, told the federal government: "Anyone who sells anything we do is a competitor." That's especially true at Christmas time. The Associated Press reports that big box stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's and Target now sell just about one in five real Christmas trees (17%). Sales of real (as opposed to artificial) trees at your local Xmas tree roadside stand have fallen to only 21% of the market. Non profit organizations sell around 15%. "Christmas tree sales are growing in excess of 20 percent annually over the past two years," Home Depot spokesman John Simley told the AP. Mike Roth, owner of Maine Mountain Man tree farm, stopped selling trees 3 years ago. "The unfortunate thing is they use it as a loss leader," Roth said. "They seem to drive out the small guy with low prices." Close to 28 million trees were sold last year. About one-third of Americans use real trees in their homes, the rest buy artificial. Ten years ago, the split betwen real and artificial was roughly even. So the small guy selling Christmas Trees off a farm is losing market share to the large chain stores selling real trees off their lot. Santa Claus will one day be just a "loss leader" at your super mega chain store.







What you can do: Even the American holiday way of life is threatened by big chains. Someday kids will ask their parents what a Christmas Tree farm was. They may even grow up believing that trees come from Wal-Mart. At least we can take comfort that Santa Claus comes from the North Pole -- that is, until Wal-Mart opens a store on the North Pole and puts HIM out of business. Imagine: a sweatshop full of underpaid elves. Merry Christmas, shoppers!










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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