Sorry, Virginia, there will be no Santa at Macy’s
For the first time since 1861, Santa will not be greeting kids at Macy’s New York City flagship due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The department store giant, which had a starring role in the 1947 classic film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” said more than a quarter of a million customers come to see Santa at Macy’s in New York each year, making the situation difficult to safely socially distance. Macy’s Chicago and San Francisco are also eliminating in-store Santalands.
Instead, Macy’s will be introducing Macy’s Santaland at Home, an online experience from Nov. 27 through Dec. 24, where families can play games, get a virtual tour of Santa’s village and workshop and take a virtual selfie with old Saint Nick.
Many malls are also offering virtual options that promise a wide range of interactivity, enriched content and a higher level of personalization. JingleRing, a new service supporting virtual Santa visits, enables parents to choose the language Santa speaks, his ethnicity, whether they want a “faith-based” visit, or one in which Santa reads kids a story or brings Mrs. Claus.
But many malls are offering in-store Santa options, as well, taking numerous precautions, including bans on lap-sitting and keeping Santa six feet away behind Plexiglass. At some places, Santa will sit outside in a heated sleigh.
Malls are helping to manage traffic by offering reserved spots and extended hours. In most cases, Santa wears a mask and customers follow local mandates. Still, some Santas are reluctant to attend in-person visits because they’re in a higher-risk group due to their age and weight, according to USA Today.
Bass Pro, which is only having in-store Santas, cited research showing 92 percent of U.S. parents with children under the age of 10 want to preserve holiday traditions. Three in five say they are comfortable taking their kids to see Santa if safety protocols are in place.
“With countless activities cancelled and many families dealing with added stress, we feel it’s more important than ever to provide some free Christmas magic and help safely create cherished holiday memories,” said Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris in a statement.
- Macy’s Santaland Comes Home for the Holidays – Macy’s
- Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus Gets a Paycheck This Year – The Wall Street Journal
- Santa is skipping Macy’s for the first time in 159 years – CNN
- Retail Holiday Season Dilemma: Virtual or In-Store Santa? – Adweek
- Is Santa Claus coming to town? Mall Santas may lose gigs in first holiday season since the COVID-19 pandemic – USA Today
- The Magic of Santa’s Wonderland Continues a Christmas Tradition at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s – Bass Pro
- Santa Claus mall visits will be different during the pandemic. Here’s how. – Chicago Tribune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Did Macy’s make the right move to forego in-person Santa Claus visits in its flagship stores? Do you see more benefits or risks in stores or malls having in-store Santa visits?