Yule parties back, but short of Santas
NEW YORK—Christmas is just around the corner but you may struggle to spot a Santa spreading joy in the United States this holiday season.
That’s because the pandemic has caused a shortage of Father Christmases, according to a booking company and Santa Claus training school.
After festivities were kept to a minimum last year due to Covid-19, parties are back for Christmas 2021 but the supply of plump, white-bearded men in red is way behind demand.
“There’s a tremendous shortage of Santa Claus entertainers,” Mitch Allen, founder of Texas-based rental agency Hire Santa, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Allen said there has been a 120-percent increase in demand for Santas this season compared to 2020 as businesses, schools and shopping malls host celebrations again.
But the number of Santas on his books has dropped 10 percent compared to 2019, meaning he has a shortfall of “over 1,000 positions” this season.
“Unfortunately, we’re just not able to meet the huge demand that we’re receiving right now,” said Allen, wearing a green elf costume on a video call.
The supply slump is despite many organizations having decided to cancel activities, fearful of the highly transmissible Omicron variant that has once again put the world’s health systems on high alert.
Contributing to the shortfall have been the deaths from coronavirus of more than 335 of Allen’s Santas this year, he said.
Many, given that they are high-risk due to their age, have decided to hang up their red suit and bobble hat for the time being while others have opted to retire.
In a good year, a Santa Claus can earn between $6,000 and $10,000 over the course of the early November to Christmas Eve season, Allen said.
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