SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NBC News Channel/WFLA) — A nationwide shortage of Santas may mean that Santa might not be coming to town for the holidays.
Several companies who hire out Santa Clauses across the U.S. say it’s becoming harder to find qualified actors to perform at events in desperate need of jolly Saint Nick.
“We have lost some of our Santas and had to recast this year,” said Brittany Skipper, owner of Royal Entertainers.
Royal Entertainers does all kinds of bookings for events that need characters, including Santa, but Skipper told NBC affiliate KNSD she’s lost seven of her 20 Santas for multiple reasons, including COVID-19.
“During COVID-19, some Santas were cautious and just said, ‘hey! I’m going to take the season off,’ and this season have said, ‘uhhhh I’m going to another season off.'”
But as the supply of Santas runs low, demand continues to go higher.
“Because everyone is ready to party and because everyone wants to see Santa, they want to get back to normal,” Skipper said.
Mitch Allen at HireSanta.com, another company that books Santas across the U.S., told KOIN that while there have been 15 percent fewer Santas in 2021, demand is 120 percent over pre-pandemic levels.
Multiple organizations say even with this increased demand driving up rates and incentives for St. Nick impersonators, a lot of Santas are hesitant to be around unvaccinated children in such close proximity, especially since older bearded men fall into the higher risk group for severe COVID-19 infections.
Still, other Santas, like Santa Bobby, are taking precautions to make sure kids and crew as are as safe as possible.
“We’ll be doing weekly COVID tests to make sure I keep Mrs. Claus safe,” he said.