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Science & Medicine

Shopping mall Santas in Indiana are feeling the effects of a tight labor market

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Santa and Mrs. Claus speak with a child at a garden store in Elkhart. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

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The struggle to find workers may have reached all the way to the North Pole as shopping mall Santas say they’re seeing increased demand this year as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is keeping some of Santa’s helpers on the labor market sidelines.

Larry Shaw, co-founded Hoosier Santas, a social group for Santas in Indiana. He said demand for Santas is higher than he’s seen in past years, but some are sitting out while COVID-19 infections surge

However, Shaw said Santas have known for years to wash their hands and not touch their faces to avoid getting colds from children. Therefore, even though many are in older, at-risk categories for COVID-19, he thinks many avoided serious illness. 

"We’re used to taking care of ourselves during Christmas and we know personal hygiene because, as a Santa, that’s something we’re taught," he said.

Shaw added that one of the largest mall photography companies, Cherry Hill Programs, is requiring all Santas to be vaccinated which has slightly decreased the number of available workers, too.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.
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