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Christmas Lights are Bright Spot for Retailers

What may be helping drive up sending on holiday lights and decorations this year is that households are starting to own more than one Christmas Tree. "We're finding that the many Christmas tree options available to consumers today are being utilized more and more as holiday decorative accents, such as wreaths, swags and garlands," Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association says in a statement. "The two-plus-tree household is evidence that the family Christmas tree has evolved into a design feature, both indoor and out, rather than the main traditional decoration during the holiday season."

For those fed up with tangled cords, missing bulbs and cracked Santas, there is also a thriving business among those willing to string your lights for a fee.

In addition to the many professional decorators one might find locally to deck your halls, one company has built a North American network of holiday decorating franchises.

Christmas Decor was started in 1986 by Texas businessman Blake Smith as an offshoot of his landscaping company. As more and more customers prove willing to pay him for professionally installed decorations, he decided in 1996 to expand the concept nationally. Today, the company serves more than 40,000 residential and commercial customers in 48 states and Canada with more than 300 North American franchises.

Brad Rangel, marketing specialist for The Decor Group, says both the economy and seasonal weather have led landscaping businesses to pursue a sideline in holiday cheer.

"They really like it because business starts to slow down around October and November, so it's a perfect fill-in for a lot of them," he says. "We've also started getting some interest from painters, roofers and guys like that who just don't have a lot of business during the winter months. We market it, from a recruitment standpoint, as a diversification of their services and, not only that, they don't have to lay people off. It's a good way for them keep their crews busy, and that way they don't have to go out and try to find new help in the spring."

Christmas Decor handles all aspects of holiday decorations, from design and installation to takedown and storage. The company will return as needed to replace any burned-out bulbs.

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