Small Business Playbook: It Won’t be a Year Without a Santa Claus, as Malls Turn to Portable igloos and Virtual Visits to Save the Holiday Tradition

It’s an annual tradition for many families during the holidays: Packing the kids in the car and trekking them to the local mall to visit Santa for the chance to rattle off a holiday wish list and snap a photo — one that might end up on the Christmas card. But few kids will be sitting on Santa’s lap this holiday season, due to the precautionary measures that have been born out of the coronavirus pandemic. A holiday tradition that dates back to the 1800s is being rethought by retailers, mall owners and the men and women who spend their holiday season playing the part of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bass Pro Shops will put Santa behind plexiglass screens, while Macy’s is launching an online Santa experience. Mall owners including Macerich and Taubman are getting creative with their holiday programming, to try to drive traffic to their shopping centers. One woman even launched her own business, selling inflatable snow globes to safely shield Santa and the children who visit him. This year, “Santa” Stephen Arnold, president and chief executive officer of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, says the Santa experience is going to be “considerably different” for his organization’s some 2,000 members, who are assigned work at malls, schools, hospitals, churches and one-on-one visits to homes. Click to read more at