Source: National Christmas Tree Association via Statista.
Our family was watching (again) A Christmas Story last night, and during the scene where the Old Man is bargaining to purchase a Christmas tree, he starts haggling with the salesman:
You know the neighbors bought one of those brand new plastic trees... the thing looks like it was made of...green pipe cleaners!
Obviously in the 1940's, artificial trees were still rather new (and not very realistic). But over the decades since then they have improved. In fact, from the data I have been able to find thus far, since at least 2013 (perhaps even further back than that), anywhere from 75% to 80% of Americans who display Christmas trees in their homes use artificial instead of real trees. This may seem counter-intuitive when looking at the annual purchase breakdowns in the info graphic above, but the key is that artificial trees are kept and used from year to year anywhere for four to eight (or more) years, whereas real trees last only one holiday season and must be purchased fresh again the following year.
I have been looking for annual tree preference trends, and I'm sure I'm close with the sources I have searched included below - but so far I have been unable to find trend data that would reveal what I am looking for in the question, namely:
At what point in American history did annual artificial Christmas tree usage (not purchases) exceed 50%, thus eclipsing the use of real trees in American homes during the holiday season?
- Treetopia - Christmas Tree Statistics
- The Times News - By the numbers: Real vs fake Christmas trees;
- American Christmas Tree Association - Most American households will celebrate Christmas with a Christmas tree;
- On the House - Choosing a real Christmas, or artificial, tree and the History of the festive tree;
- Bradenton Herald - Christmas tree farmers combat popularity of artificial trees;
- How Stuff Works - Christmas Tree Trends;
- Wikipedia - Christmas tree - Artificial trees;
- Wikipedia - Christmas tree production.