For the past two years, the holiday season has looked different due to the pandemic. Last year, we saw a difference in how much people traveled and the time spent with family members. This year, vaccine developments have allowed more people to get back to normal with their holiday travel plans and see family this season—but what’s still being impacted? The global supply chains and labor shortages.
Having a blue Christmas with less Santas
The introduction of different COVID variants continue to put more stress on supply chains, including creating labor shortages. One job high in demand and low in supply this time of year is Santa Claus. From department stores to holiday parties to parades, demand for jolly St. Nicks have skyrocketed. Experts attribute the surge in demand to event planners who are weary of the lingering pandemic and want to make up for lost time and brighten people’s spirits.
According to CNN, companies that contract out Santas for events are seeing a decline in the number of trained and available Santa Clauses. Mitch Allen, founder and head elf at Hire Santa, a that helps clients book Santas across the country told CNN his company has 10% fewer Santa Clauses available this year while requests for Santas have more than doubled when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, enrollment at Santa training centers and schools is also down. Susen Mesco, who's operated a professional Santa school in Denver for nearly 40 years, told CNN she believes the shortages can be attributed to several factors relating to coronavirus fears, including traveling and conference settings that felt unsafe.
Additionally, most Santas are older in age and overweight with medical conditions like diabetes—making them at high risk for coronavirus infections. Many Santas, especially those in stores and malls, interact with young children who may be unvaccinated or carrying germs. Thus, the pandemic is causing these veteran Santas to retire or take a break until things improve.
How can supply chain management apply to this Santa shortage?
Just like any disruption to your supply chain, the best way to cause minimum damage is to be prepared. Organizations need to take precautionary measures in order to ensure business continuity during the fallout. Companies should implement policies or rules that ensure the healthy and safety of their employees.
For example, you can enforce the following:
- Replace face-to-face meetings with video conferences
- Implement a 14-day self-quarantine period for employees that have traveled to infected areas
- Apply the same restrictions among suppliers and temporary workers as you do full-time employees
- Conduct temperature scans before allowing entry to work
- Have all workers wear the necessary PPE
- Provide consistent COVID testing
- Set in place vaccine mandates
Holiday festivities shouldn’t have to stall because of poor worker and safety management—have a plan in place before a disaster and put it in action.