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Santa Clause Is Coming To Town


Posted At: 15 December 2008 16:11 PM
Related Categories: General, Retail Suppliers, Town & Shopping Centre Management


I for one remember my favourite shop Santa….he (and I do understand that it probably was not the same ‘he’ every year) was based at a local garden centre in Oxfordshire where I grew up. We would visit every December and inevitably encouraged my parents to buy more decorations and other Christmas related paraphernalia; presumable exactly what the garden centre wanted to happen. But does the jolly fellow boost sales? And are kids even still interested? If they’re not, they soon will be…

As we walk ever on into the future so does Santa. New concepts such as the Big Daddy ‘fly on the wall’ expose from Propinvest (Father Christmas and his gang will be broadcasting real-time to 6 of their Shopping Centres) and Santa’s Showtime (a 15 minute show put on by Meadowhall shopping Centre in Sheffield designed to expel ‘the long queues and disgruntled customer’) are dragging St Nic into the future, and you can also fit him into your increasingly busy lives (savvy teched-up parents can create their own personalised video message from Santa! I know one 4 year old who insisted her message was played back to her over and over again, now that is value for money as it is a completely free service.)

Good ideas, and theres nothing wrong with Santa going 21st C. PC, however, Santa is not! One shopping centre in Birmingham is outright refusing to have a Santa’s grotto for fear of offending Non Christians (a spokeswoman said: "We wish to be sensitive to people of other religions over the festive period. There are a lot of people in the region who are not Christians and do not celebrate Christmas") and in another centre, a skinny St Nick is refusing to stuff his suit with a cushion as he believes this encourages child obesity. He claims tubby children make his knees hurt! Maybe he needs some more meat on those knobbly sparrows knees?!

All of this is very interesting but does having him in your centre really boost sales?

There is the argument that actually no, he doesn’t, as no one in their right mind would take their children shopping in December! If parents take the kids to see the big FC, then perhaps they don’t intend to shop at the same time, but surely most people would not walk away from the shops empty handed during the festive period???

Shopper numbers are continuing to rise in the week before the penultimate last minute rush, and latest figures from retail analysts SPSL show that for week 10-16 December, shopper numbers increased 6.4 per cent on the week prior. We should also consider that on-line purchasing is on the increase; online year-on-year sales jumped 14% to £320m on Monday December 8 - traditionally the busiest day of the year online.

So although we might not be stepping out to shop as much as we did last year, there is definitely some attraction to the shops, and the SnapShop team like to think that good old Father Christmas has done his bit to get the shoppers flocking!

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.


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