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

Justin Hicks / IPB News

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 or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

Justin Hicks has joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin will be based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News. Justin comes to Indiana by way of New York. He has a Master's Degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He previously earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Appalachian State University where he played trumpet. He first learned about Elkhart, Indiana, because of the stamp on his brass instrument indicating where it was produced.