In times of online shopping, many things can be conveniently ordered online – including Christmas trees. The first dealers go one step further and deliver their fir trees directly with decorations. Is it a new trend or is it more of a niche phenomenon?
Whe watches Gianni Kunstmann decorating a Christmas tree, notices that a professional is at work here: the Hamburg fir dealer nimbly wraps a light chain around the small tree in front of him, then he hangs more than 60 small balls on the branches evenly spaced. The customer wanted the tree to shimmer in red and silver.
The customer – that’s the nurse Petra Steuber. After a knee operation, she is not quite fit again and has therefore ordered her tree online – decoration included. Now the 52-year-old sits on the sofa in her row house in Hamburg-Rahlstedt, holds the dog Fiby on her lap and watches as the fir tree that has been delivered takes on a Christmassy shape in her living room.
Many people put a personal touch on their Christmas tree – whether it’s a homemade straw star or a ball that the grandchild painted. Not so Petra Steuber: Her three children were never allowed to choose the tree decorations. “I was always afraid that it wouldn’t look good in the end,” she says with a laugh. So now it should be the perfect tree. Steuber had the one and a half meter high Nordmann fir from the Internet cost 230 euros – the price includes delivery, decoration and disposal after the holidays.
The pre-decorated tree business is flourishing
Put the desired tree in the virtual shopping cart, click, done – the business with online trees is worthwhile for Kunstmann’s company, which he took over from his father. According to his own statement, he sells several thousand Christmas trees each season, around a third of them through the internet shop he opened eight years ago.
The business with pre-decorated trees is also flourishing: he sold around 300 pieces this year, says the dealer. Companies made up the majority, but the share of private customers is steadily increasing. Many of the buyers are elderly or working people – and “wealthy, well-off customers” who do not want to dirty their cars with pine needles.
The offer is no longer uncommon, and numerous garden centers and hardware stores also have the Christmas tree in their program at the click of a mouse. Fir trees, on the other hand, that arrive ready-decorated at the customer are more of a niche.
A small family business in the Bavarian town of Kröning near Landshut has also discovered this for itself: On their homepage “schmueckte-tanne.de”, Daniela and Franz Schiederer are selling decorated trees for the first time this winter – in the variants “elegant”, “traditional” and “modern”. Unlike Kunstmann, the Schiederers send their trees and jewelry in padded boxes by post. They are also satisfied: the 150 or so trees that they had in their first assortment are sold out.
Convenience and time optimization
“We’re getting used to a donation industry,” says trend researcher Peter Wippermann, explaining the all-inclusive packages from the Christmas tree sellers. “Coffee to Go” was the beginning, lunch is now less and less cooked, but brought by courier. The decorated Christmas tree is a temporary high point of this development. ”That has little to do with comfort, but rather an attempt to optimize one’s own time. In the eyes of the researcher, the tree from the Internet therefore has a good chance of becoming normal at some point.
The Federal Association of Christmas Tree Manufacturers is more skeptical: Of the around 27 million trees sold annually in Germany, only three percent were ordered online in 2015, says spokeswoman Saskia Blümel. More recent figures are not available.
Blümel estimates that it is currently around five percent. She does not believe that online trees will prevail in the long term: “Our impression is that it is more likely to go back to walking across the field and choosing a tree yourself,” says Blümel. Decorating oneself is also important to many people.
Whether a new cult or not – Petra Steuber is satisfied with the tree she bought online, which the dealer Kunstmann finished decorating after a good half an hour. “I think it’s really beautiful,” says the 52-year-old. With her fondness for red and silver Christmas tree decorations, she is in good company, says Kunstmann. Only the color combination red and gold is even more in demand. But you can also fulfill more unusual wishes. There is only one limit to the customer’s taste: “We do everything – just no tinsel.”