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 is up about120% this year compared to last 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 skyrocketed and there just aren’t enough Santas to go around.

He said with the pandemic continuing and infection rates rising once again “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.”

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.”

He said since the start of this year along more than 300 Santa Claus entertainers have died from COVID and other illnesses.

Allen said besides COVID and a fear of protracted public exposure “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.”

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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 the Jolly Fat Man, 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:10 and the area is well ventilated.”

In addition he pointed out “we still have some locations that require a mask or a face shield for Santa, others don’t.”

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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 David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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