December 24, 2003
Mall Santas going extinct?

Are shopping mall Santas going extinct?

Santa isn't the big man at Christmas that he used to be, at least not at the mall.

While appearances by St. Nick remain a holiday ritual at most of the nation's 1,130 enclosed shopping centers, there are bearish signs for mall-based Santas, according to a review of five years of "holiday fun facts" from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

There is evidence of Santa fatigue:

The number of Santa photos sold per mall in 2002 was 4,683. Those are 54 percent fewer Kodak moments than the 10,250 photos snapped per mall in 2000, the only other year for which figures are available.

The average number of children sitting on Santa's lap per mall in 2002 was 8,758. That's down 13 percent from the five-year high of 10,119 in 2001.

The average mall, like many businesses, got leaner and meaner in 2002, using one full-time and one part-time Father Christmas. That compares with one full-time and two part-timers in 2001. The recent peak of Santa staffing was in 1998, when the average mall had 1.2 full-time Santas and 2.8 part-timers.

That last bullet item is a clear demonstration of the dark side of those rising productivity numbers.

Ah, well. At least this is one job they can't offshore.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 24, 2003 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack