Many parents skipping Santa visit but unconcerned over toy shortage, survey finds

With COVID-19 and Omicron threatening the holiday season, a new survey from Researchscape International on behalf of Zuhoo, the virtual Santa visit platform, finds many U.S. families are concerned about safety protocols regarding Santa visits and the annual Christmas photos.

The most wonderful time of the year is not without its challenges in 2021. In addition to people still being hesitant to frequent busy malls, there is also a Santa shortage and looming toy shortage that will make ticking items off Christmas lists more difficult this year, signalling the adoption of a “new normal” for Christmas.

The survey found that many parents who typically bring their children to the mall to meet Santa are once again forgoing the tradition due to COVID-19.

Data gathered from the 1,130 survey participants reveals:

  • 49% of parents in families that include Santa in their holiday season are planning on skipping the in-person visit with Santa at the mall this year, with a majority citing concerns over COVID-19.
  • 32% of U.S. adults are “somewhat comfortable” in a mall setting while 24% are “completely comfortable” and 12% are “not at all comfortable”.
  • 47% of the participants were completely unaware of a holiday toy shortage, with 78% saying they are not worried about the shortage.

Other findings included:

  • 44% of parents found it very or completely important to have a diverse cast (i.e., Black Santa, ASL Santa, Spanish-speaking Santa) of Santa performers available.
  • 40% of parents warn their child(ren) that “Santa is watching” or some version of this phrase at least once every day during the holiday season.
  • The three main reasons parents say they take their child(ren) to see Santa is for the keepsake photo, interacting with Santa and quality of the time spent.

The online research, conducted by Researchscape International on behalf of Zuhoo, surveyed 1,130 U.S. adults, of whom 388 were parents in families that include Santa in their holiday season. The survey collected responses from November 5 to 8, 2021; results were weighted to be representative of the overall population by eight demographic variables.


About Tessa Clayton

A former Chief Sub of Red magazine, Tessa Clayton is the Digital Editor of and ToyNews. As a freelance journalist she specialised in writing about parenting and family life, and has contributed to a wide variety of publications and websites including Tesco online, Mother & Baby, Livingetc, Junior, Boots Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting and Get in touch at

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