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Claus, Inc.: The Business of Being Santa

A Cherry Hill Photo Santa entertains 8-year-old Jerry Nguyen at the Westfield Shoppingtown North County mall in San Diego.
Scott Horsley, NPR
A Cherry Hill Photo Santa entertains 8-year-old Jerry Nguyen at the Westfield Shoppingtown North County mall in San Diego.
Joe Mystic performs as Santa Claus at events and parties in San Diego. In the city phonebook, Mystic is listed as "Santa Claus."
/ Scott Horsley, NPR
/
Scott Horsley, NPR
Joe Mystic performs as Santa Claus at events and parties in San Diego. In the city phonebook, Mystic is listed as "Santa Claus."

Christmas Eve is the busiest night of the year for Santa Claus. But for Santa look-alikes, business has been booming for weeks. A jolly old man in a red suit can make good money this time of year by playing Santa Claus -- especially if he has a real white beard.

The number of families flocking to the mall for a ritual visit to see a local Santa Claus representative means that the seasonal work can pay off handsomely.

As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, whether it's a local mall or a national chain of Santa shops that also sell photos, it takes a blend of Santa and selling to thrive at Christmastime.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.