Santa Claus may not be coming to town.
Americans are not just grappling with a supply-chain shortage this Christmas — there’s also a dearth of Santas.
HireSanta.com has seen a 121 percent increase in people seeking Santas or Mrs. Clauses this year, compared with two years ago, according to Insider.
The site has been turning down new requests since the first week of November because its Santas are all booked up.
“Hundreds of people a day have been reaching out to us,” founder Mitch Allen told The Washington Post. “We always sell out on weekends, but normally it’s after Thanksgiving.”
Allen explained that many Saint Nicks, who are likely at higher risk of suffering from severe COVID-19 due to their age and high body mass index, which is a comorbidity, may be skipping this year or retiring from the Santa industry for good because of the pandemic.
Others, he added, have died.
“Several hundred Santas and Mrs. Clauses, over the last 18 months, have passed away, and it’s just a tragedy,” Allen told The Washington Post, though he added that some of those deaths may have been due to other causes.
Santa Tim Connaghan, the so-called “National Santa” for his role in major parades and the Toys for Tots program, said that 18 percent of surviving Santas are sitting this year out, according to the Post.
“I’ve had all my shots and all my vaccinations, and I watch myself very closely,” Connaghan told the Post. “But I want to remain cautious, you know, and I’m also encouraging other Santas to do the same.”
Mezzanine Beecomb, the founder of Circus Modern, a San Francisco-based talent brokerage for party performers like Santas told the Post that she’s been scrambling to secure the five Santas she’ll usually assemble during the holiday season.
Some applicants, she said, had no experience being Santas while others weren’t willing to work on Christmas Eve. Others, she said, were too young to be Santa and some were women.
Doug Eberhardt, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based Santa, told The Post that requests have spiked this year and he’s already booked 92 appearances between now and Christmas.
And while a quick fix to the issue could be to just tap some amateur Santa lookalikes like grandfathers and bearded uncles around the country, supply-chain issues have limited the availability of Santa’s iconic red robe and hat, according to the Post.
Eberhardt also owns a store called Pro Santa Shop where he’s sold out of most items and has even had to sell some of his own personal costumes at a premium because people are “just that desperate.”
“There’s a lot of needed items that are still on the sea in containers,” a spokeswoman for another company, Costumes for Santa, told The Post. “Our wholesalers have not gotten their product from China … Stuff that should have come in in August is coming in now.”