There’s a Santa Claus shortage in New Jersey
Ho ho ho, oh no!
The ongoing labor shortage has apparently reached all the way up to the North Pole.
Demand for appearances by Santa Claus has skyrocketed in the Garden State and across the country, but many establishments are finding out they won’t be getting a visit from Old Saint Nick.
What’s causing the Santa shortage?
Mitch Allen, the founder and self-described "head elf" at HireSanta.com, said hundreds of requests in New Jersey for a Santa appearance at corporate events, retail stores, country club parties and other celebrations have been turned down because demand has increased and there just aren’t enough Santas to go around, adding that demand is up about 120% compared to last year.
For the most part, the pandemic is to blame for the Santa shortage.
“There are still some Santas that are reluctant to go out and see the public face-to-face. Our Santa Claus entertainers are at high-risk for a negative outcome if they do contract COVID due to age and underlying health conditions,” Allen said.
He noted “we actually lost a great number of Santas who actually passed away over the last 18 months, many of them due to COVID.”
Allen said since the start of this year, more than 300 Santa Claus entertainers have died from COVID and other illnesses.
Allen said besides COVID and a fear of protracted public exposure, some Santas has decided to retire.
“Every year some Santas just decide to hang up the red coat. They’ve decided their time of spreading the love and joy of Christmas is over,” Allen said.
He pointed out malls and major retail establishments usually book Santa visits during the first half of the year, and most of them have been able to secure a visit from Santa, however many other locations have been shut out.
What to expect with your Santa visit
Allen said for the most part the plexiglass barriers used last year to keep Santa separated from children have been removed but social distancing is not gone.
“More than 80% of our big retailers are incorporating some sort of social distancing, where Santa is in a chair and the child is in a chair or bench 4 to 6 feet away and the area is well ventilated.”
In addition, he said some locations are still requiring that Santa wear a mask or face shield.
Allen said different states have different regulations and guidelines, and Santa will always follow the rules.
“Sitting on Santa’s knee is still not back, and I’m not sure it’s going to be back for several years,” he said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at firstname.lastname@example.org.