Last year’s harsh winter is believed to have killed off 30 per cent of stock in parts of Europe, while imports of the Nordmann fir – a popular tree – are down by 80 per cent.
A change to the European Union’s common agricultural policy meant that 30,000 hectares of Christmas trees were pulped in 2004, which would have come on to the market this year.
The number of trees being harvested in Scotland has also fallen, as fewer trees were planted during 2004 and 2005 when prices were at an all-time low.
A spokesman for the Kilted Christmas Tree Company in Kinross-shire, which supplies garden centres and DIY chains, said: “They are in short supply.
“Growers were not getting the prices a few years ago, fewer trees went into the ground, which is why there are not as many trees out there this year.
“We sold out in July.”
Jimmy Enevoldsen, from Noble Nordmann Ltd, one of the top five growers in Scotland, said across his three Scottish farms in Stirling, Dundee and Biggar he would be selling just 70,000 trees this year – down from 120,000 last year.
He said: “There is no way we can increase the number of trees that were planted at that time.
“In a few years time we will be selling 250,000 a year.
“But this year there is a dip. It is a desperate situation for everybody.”
Scotland has more Christmas trees than people and in a good year between 2.5 and three million will be harvested.
And while the number of trees being planted has risen year-on-year since 2005, they will take takes to reach the market.
Roger Hay, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Grower’s Association (BCTGA), said: “They are increasing all the time, but it is just a question of making up the shortfalls from Europe.
“We are certainly in a position where we could supply all of Scotland with all the trees it needs.
“The trouble is we don’t have enough Nordmann firs.
“There’s enough planted, but it takes 12 years for them to grow.
“So we are playing catch up.”
Nordmann firs are popular because of their long shelf life, iconic look, and their ability to hold their pine needles longer than most species.
With the shortage looming, Mr Enevoldsen said consumers should start Christmas early this year.
He said: “I would say get out there early.
“We’re supplying the dealers with the trees now.
“We started cutting a few weeks ago.
“There is no reason to wait.
“The good trees will be gone quite quickly – there won’t be many left by December 10.”
But Mr Ray said families should abandon the idea of having a Nordmann tree this year and buy a Scottish-grown pine instead.
He said: “We have loads growing in Scotland.
“They are good needle-holding trees.
“And there isn’t a market for them in England.
“If you buy pine you will have no difficulty in finding them and you’ll have a super tree.”