Christmas trees are a traditional symbol of the holidays. Despite the country's financial crunch, live tree sales are still doing well. The National Christmas Tree Association says sales are better than average, but that's not exactly the case in Wilmington. Thurston Sullivan and his son Matt found the perfect Christmas tree to surprise his family. “This is for my mother, my sister is coming in from Germany and we'd like to surprise her for Christmas,” said Thurston. Even with a sour economy, the Sullivan’s still opted to buy a tree. “A lot of people believe that a live tree is the real deal despite the economy,” said Thurston. There are about 1,600 Christmas tree lots across the state. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association estimates about five million trees will be sold this year, which is what they sold last year. But at the Farmer's Supply Company off Oleander Drive in Wilmington, managers said they have seen a five percent drop in sales of trees and wreaths from last year. But just down the road at Pendercrest Garden & Gifts, owners said tree sales have been steady. “This weekend we've actually had a boost in sales,” said Alexis Williams. Williams said people are buying more affordable trees. “I think more than anything people are scaling back the size of their trees. For our customers, we've always been known to sell very large trees. So instead of buying a 12 foot tree, they may be buying a 9 foot tree this year,” she said. Sullivan said now is the time to buy a tree as many lots have them on sale twenty-five to fifty percent off. Real trees can cost as much as $300, though most cost much less. The state's Christmas Tree Association expects $124 million in revenue from tree sales. That is the same as last year.
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