Not only is Santa scrambling at the North Pole right now, he and his helpers are in high demand farther south – at malls, events, and in living rooms around the country.
Staffing firm HireSanta.com reports demand for the man in red is through the chimney.
“We’re up over 30% over last year and up over 120% from pre-pandemic levels,” says HireSanta.com founder and head elf, Mitch Allen. “For every one Santa that comes to us, we have about 20 clients that are looking for Santa,” says Allen.
The company sold out on weekends faster than ever before. From private events to malls across America, it’s crunch time for Kris Kringle and his helpers.
“I’ve got time to go home and go to bed and get up and start over again,” says Circle City Santa Larry Shaw.
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Michigan Santa Claus Chad Burgess laments there’s just not enough of him to go around: “I hate turning people away when I’m already booked.”
There’s also an increased demand for diverse Santas. The Santa Experience at Mall of America offers a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual roster.
In the DC-area, culturally deaf Santa, Charles Graves, uses American Sign Language to communicate with children who may otherwise not be able to tell Santa what’s on their list.
This year, Covid protocols are lifted in most places, giving kids a chance to get up close to jolly old St. Nick. For the young and the young-at-heart, it’s a tradition to sit on Santa’s knee. “My brother and I have not missed a Santa picture since we were babies!” says Ohio resident Cierra Shaner, visiting Santa in New York City. And 8-year-old Kaylee Brunson of North Carolina put it simply: “It makes me just feel a lot of joy!”
Inflation has also pinched Santa’s purse this year, with many older Santas on fixed-incomes. Mitch Allen says his company is charging slightly more for bookings, but trying to pass along some of that green to Santa, too. “A good Santa suit starts at about a thousand dollars and can go up from there. Then you’ve got the belts and the boots and all the other accessories,” says Allen.
While this year is basically in the bag, HireSanta.com says customers are already booking for 2023, guaranteeing Santa will need that long winter’s nap.