Turns out, there have been some casualties in the war on Christmas.
No, not the “war” over what greeting to give, but the war capitalism wages on itself to go where the money leads. Lately, as many have noted, the money has been leading away from shopping malls, leaving one of the most hallowed Christmas traditions — the department store or shopping mall Santa Claus — out of work or redefining how they do their job.
According to a report in The Washington Post, one in four shopping malls in existence is expected to close by 2022. Dozens have shuttered within the past 10 years. Being a mall Santa Claus is not the stable gig it once was.
Now, there are multiple mobile apps and services that allow children to video chat with Santa or see a message from the jolly old elf. The benefit for parents is that they don’t have to haul the kids to the mall and put them through something that, honestly, is a coin flip as to whether it will be pleasant or result in a traumatic crying jag.
Professional Santas can’t just sit on the other end of a web cam and expect to pay the bills, though. According to The Post, many also do corporate events, store appearances or parties where they’re not only expected to indulge the Christmas wishes of children, but also entertain. That means developing storytelling and singing skills, among other things.
“We’ve become performing Santas,” pro St. Nick Tom Myers told The Post.
As everyday life in America constantly changes, even something as traditional as the mall Santa must adapt.
Fortunately, this trend has not hit Charleston, yet. Santa is in residence at the Charleston Town Center mall and will be available through Christmas Eve.
And it’s a good thing, too. While retail dollars might be drifting away from shopping malls, Santa Claus is still a reliable draw for such places, helping to boost foot traffic and sales. So, if you want to see and talk to Santa in person, take advantage of it now. Within five to 10 years, everyone may be Skyping with Santa.