NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Demand for Santa is at an all-time high, but there's a shortage of St. Nick impersonators this season.
Mitch Allen who runs hiresanta.com, an online booking company for Santa impersonators, says demand is up more than 100% from pre-pandemic levels, but the number of impersonators is down 10%.
"There are still a number of Santas that are leery about getting out and interreacting with the public," said Allen.
Allen said there's also been a large loss in the Santa community, with 350 impersonators dying from COVID and other health issues.
Greg Walsh, the owner of Greg's Trees, sells Christmas trees at five locations around the city and doubles as a Santa impersonator in his free time.
"I know a lot of Santas being in the business, but they're all over booked this month usually they're looking for job but it's a big shortage," said Walsh.
This year Christmas House Long Island opted for a robotic Santa in lieu of an in-person Santa.
Visitors can dress up and sit in Santa's chair for pictures next to the animatronic and so far no one has complained, according to representatives from the interactive experience.
While the shortage may cause issues for local events or last minute bookings, most department stores and malls will have Santas on site since they're booked at the beginning of the year.
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