Creepy Retail Santas Actually Get People In The Door

Santa Claus working in his toy shop, painting a toy train and looking at the viewer with a smile. It's a labor of love.

Experts have revealed the having a fat man with a white beard in a red suit outside your shop does wonders for sales.

That’s right, when it comes to closing the deal at Christmas time, it pays to have Santa shouting your praises (and low, low prices) right outside your shop front.

According to the recent ICSC consumer forecast for the 2015 holiday shopping season, 50 per cent of parents with kids 13 or under plan to make a trip to a shopping centre for the sole purpose of sitting on Santa’s knee and rattling off a wishlist.

Talking to Adweek about whether the jolly fellow helps draw people in the door, spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers Jess Tron says, “In terms of driving more traffic? Absolutely.”

Santa Claus in shopping centres is by no means a new phenomenon, with companies hired to supply Santas to shops and sign them up to multiyear contracts.

“When you see a shopping centre where they have a photo operation set up, most certainly it does draw people to it,” president and CEO of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, Bob Elkin, told Adweek.

Elkin also observed that parents with little kids will go as far as to ‘comparison shop’ for Santas, choosing the centre or store with the most realistic Santa.

Over in the States, mall operator Macerich is set to partner with HGTV to install “Santa HQ” at its 10 properties nationally.

Calling it a “completely reimagined visit with Santa for the 21st century”, the experience gives visitors a chance to take an “Elfie Selfie,” try the “Naughty O’ Nice Meter” and visit Santa’s observatory by using “Elf-Ray Vision”.

But no matter how elaborate or simple the approach is, there’s no denying how important having old St Nick out front is to the final paycheck.

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