Why Santa Claus Is a No-Show at Many Malls This Year


The imagery of the Christmas season overwhelms every shopping center at this time of year, with candy canes, snowmen, wreaths, holly, and red, green, and gold accents everywhere you look. And while the image of Santa Claus is also ubiquitous, you can’t expect a living, breathing version of the jolly old elf at every mall in the land.

Throughout North America, most shopping centers are proceeding with the traditions of the season, including regular appearances of Santa, complete with the chance for kids to sit on his lap, tell him what they want, and get a picture taken—so long as they can endure the traditionally long line to get their turn.

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently reported, however, that Santa is showing up less, and sometimes not all at all, at certain malls. In the San Diego area, a live Santa made just a single appearance this season at the Vieja Outlets, and is only showing his face on Saturdays at the Westfield Horton Plaza Mall. The Hazard Center mall decided not to bother with booking a Santa at all.

(MORE: Beyond Deals & Discounts: How Retailers Are Luring in Holiday Shoppers)

Are Santa appearances fewer and farther between? Well, if they are, it’s not because he’s busier at this time of year (though of course he is), nor is it due to the so-called “War on Christmas.” Mostly, the Union-Tribune explains, the decision to skip or scale back on an in-person Santa Claus comes down to the demographics of the shopping center’s typical visitors:

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