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Ho-Ho-No! Santa is in short supply this Christmas

FWR Santa shortage story
Courtesy
/
HireSanta.com
Southlake's HireSanta.com on ABC's 'Shark Tank' in 2018.

“Ho-Ho-Ho!” has turned to “No-No-No!”

Santa is in short supply this year, according to Mitch Allen, founder and head elf at HireSanta.com, the Fort Worth company that operates as a clearing house for many Santas nationwide.

“We can’t keep up,” he said. “People, companies, organizations want their Santa Claus.”

HireSanta.com is seeing a 30% increase in demand over 2021 and up 125% over pre-pandemic levels in people, and organizations reaching out to his company to have Santa at an event, Allen said.

“We just don’t have enough Santa Claus entertainers to meet the huge demand that we’re seeing,” he said. “For every one new Santa that reaches out to us, there are 20 people that need Santa. He’s in demand.”

The founder and head elf of HireSanta.com said there are over 2,250 jobs for full-season Santas, elves, and other holiday entertainers open across the industry.

Santa’s knee is back in demand, Allen said.

In-person visits are increasing, while virtual visit demand has gone down dramatically from pandemic levels, Allen said. Virtual visits fell 85% in 2021 from 2020 and now 2022 looks to be 50% less than in 2021.

“Most clients are moving back to sitting on Santa’s knee, and not considering COVID in their holiday plans in the same way they did last year,” he said.

More companies and families are seeking a “Santa experience” rather than the traditional mall visit.

“People and companies are looking for a Santa event and so that generally means more Santa or other entertainers are needed, so that increases the demand as well,” he said.

Allen sees several reasons for the shortage.

“On the demand side of it, more and more companies are using hired Santas to help associate their brands with Christmas,” he said.

Santa is associated with things being back to normal following the pandemic and companies want to make that association, he said.

On the supply side, Allen notes that COVID was tough on Santas, who tend to be older.

“You can imagine that Santas – at least those of a certain age — are at a higher likelihood for a negative outcome if they get COVID,” he said. “So we sadly lost a great number of Santas, and then many Santas decided to hang up the red coat.”

Allen said the company’s Santa database was down 15% in 2021 from 2020, but he doesn’t yet know if there has been another decrease this year.

Like other companies looking to hire employees, HireSanta.com has been out recruiting.

“We worked all year going to Santa conventions, and Santa schools and there, yes, there are those things, all over the country to recruit new and existing Santas,” he said.

Vince Rosen is one Santa who still dons the red coat. The 70-year-old with a white beard has been working as a Santa for more than a decade.

“We had a couple of tough years, but now it’s coming back,” he said.

Rosen, who lives in Denton, said he used to do about 50 events during the holiday season pre-pandemic and he now does about 35.

“Some things have come back, but there are still some clients I used to have that have not started up with Santa events again,” he said.

The personal touch can’t be beat when it comes to having a visit from Santa.

“I went to see a family last weekend, and I’ve been going to visit for the past six years,” he said. “When I told the now 6-year-old kid what he asked for last year, it made a real impression. I love that.”

Rosen works almost exclusively through HireSanta.com now. He said having someone to handle the administrative side of booking events and visits makes a lot of difference.

“I used to do all that myself and there were always issues,” he said. “Having HireSanta.com do that lets me do what I love doing and that’s being Santa.”

Rosen was in the original video that HireSanta.com used when the company appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2018. Shark Barbara Corcoran’s offer of $200,000 for 10 percent with the condition that HireSanta pays back the investment with 50% of the profits was accepted by Allen. Corcoran is still a partner in the business, Allen said.

Allen is seeing demand across the board for Santa.

“We’re seeing more interest in diverse Santas. From Black Santas and Mrs. Clauses to deaf Santa, Spanish speaking, and even female Santa Claus entertainers are in demand,” he said. “So there’s more opportunity for people wanting to be Santa than ever before too.”

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.