The US is facing an unlikely shortage: Santas… Shortages this holiday season have left reached as far as the North Pole as people scramble to hire Santas.
In a statement to Insider, hiresanta.com founder Mitch Allen said the site has seen a 121% increase in people reaching out to have Santa at an event this year compared to the past two years.
However, Allen said there are 10% fewer Santa Claus entertainers this year because some have died from COVID-19 and many aren’t doing events because of the pandemic. Many have also retired from the Santa game.
Santa Tim Connaghan, the “National Santa” who has appeared in major parades and as the Santa for Toys for Tots, told The Washington Post that he surveyed fellow Santas and 18% say they’re taking the year off.
The Post reported that many Santas, while jolly, have some comorbidities with COVID-19, especially since they tend to be older and overweight.
“I’ve had all my shots and all my vaccinations, and I watch myself very closely,” Connaghan told the Post. “But I want to remain cautious, you know, and I’m also encouraging other Santas to do the same.”
Allen said there are over 1,275 full-season Santa jobs – such as those who work in malls – and over 2,000 hourly Santa gigs still unfilled as well.
Santas are in such high demand that Courtney Bryant, an employee for a non-profit in Texas, told the Post she paid $320 for two hours of a fake-bearded Santa through a site called GigSalad. Bryant said she wasn’t even able to see what the Santa looked like before he would show up to her non-profit’s December 4 holiday event.
Bryant told the Post she probably reached out to 50 Santas to hire one without any luck.
“I don’t even have a picture of the Santa. I don’t know what he looks like,” Bryant told the Post. “The woman I spoke to on the phone for the company said that the Santa will reach out 48 hours before the event.”
Doug Eberhardt, a Santa in Charlotte, North Carolina, told the Post that he’s seen a rise in requests and has 92 gigs booked until Christmas.
The Post added that while it may seem simple to have a grandpa or anyone with a large belly and beard to play the role of Santa, supply chain shortages have also limited the availability of Santa costumes.
“There’s a lot of needed items that are still on the sea in containers,” a spokeswoman for the company Costumes for Santa told The Post. “Our wholesalers have not gotten their product from China … Stuff that should have come in in August is coming in now.”
Eberhardt told the Post that he also owns a store called Pro Santa Shop and had to sell some of his own personal costumes at a premium because people are “so desperate.”
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