Santa Claus is experiencing some supply chain issues this year.
Parents hoping to get their children a traditional early meeting with Santa to tell him what they want for Christmas might face some longer waits and less availability this holiday season due to overwhelming demand and a shrinking supply of St. Nicks.
Companies that specialize in making sure Santa Claus is coming to town have experienced skyrocketing demand. HireSanta, a Texas-based company that books entertainers to play Santa Claus for events, has a full calendar.
“Well, right now, as we’re heading into December we’re pretty much sold out on all weekends across the country,” HireSanta founder Mitch Allen told NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch on TODAY Dec. 2. “Like if you want a Santa on a Saturday, you just can’t do it.”
Allen added that the company is seeing its biggest demand ever, up 30% from last year and 120% from before the pandemic. However, there are more than 2,200 open positions for Santas, Mrs. Clauses and elves across the industry, according to Allen.
Kirsch visited one place where Santa is always available: the Castle Noel in Medina, Ohio, which celebrates Christmas year round. He spoke with co-owner Mark Klaus (yes that’s his real last name) about what keeps bringing people back year after year.
“I took my kids to see Santa at the mall,” he said. “A lot of times there is shopping, parking, stress. Packages you need to buy, things you need to do. Then you have to wait in line, and if you get there at a good time, boom. If you don’t get there at a good time you are in a big line.
"Here people spend two hours having fun, and at the end of that fun they see Santa.”
Last year, events seeking a Santa to liven up the festivities also faced a labor shortage.
Safety concerns about getting COVID-19 by performers playing Santa have also been a factor in recent years. Companies recommend making an online reservation to see Santa as early as possible so that your child doesn't miss out.
For families who can't visit Santa due to shortages or other factors, there are still ways to make sure St. Nick pays a visit to the kids. A family member can dress up as Santa, you can rent a Santa suit to take some photos, or you can buy a personalized message from Santa online.