- As vaccines become widely available, Macy's is allowing customers to reserve a visit with Santa Claus in stores at select Macy's locations as part of its iconic Macy's Santaland experience. The event was only virtual last year, due to the pandemic.
- Starting next month, Macy's customers can schedule visits with Santa at its Chicago, New York, and San Francisco locations, the department store announced on Monday. The retailer will close its Santaland display on Christmas Eve.
- The company is also conducting Macy's Santaland at Home, a virtual experience featuring interactive games and an interactive video where kids can share their holiday wish list and take a Santa selfie from Nov. 26 until Christmas Eve. The retailer will require a supervising adult to create the account and provide permissions for access.
Macy's iconic holiday traditions are returning in a slightly more normal manner this year, after mostly going virtual last year. Macy's, like other retailers, has had to rethink its approach to holiday events to balance tradition with safety. In 2020, the Macy's Santaland at Home virtual experience was launched to make up for the lack of in-person Santa visits, while its 94th annual Thanksgiving Day parade was produced only as a televised event without spectators.
This year, the retailer is allowing spectators to attend its Thanksgiving Day parade in person, and it is requiring all of its staff and volunteer participants to get vaccinated, wear masks and follow social distancing protocols. The return of Macy's Santaland continues a tradition that goes as far back as 1861, per the announcement. While the retailer is allowing in-person visits again this year, there are still restrictions: the visits will be contactless and conducted via a "socially distanced experience."
In 2020, a lot of things went virtual for the holidays. In October last year, Macy's introduced virtual personal styling services for the holidays. The following month, Nordstrom announced that it would facilitate 15-minute video calls with Santa for $20, the proceeds of which were donated to charity. Belk made a similar move in December with its virtual holiday festivities, which included free phone calls from Santa Claus and an online home decorating contest.
"With the health and safety of our staff and guests as our top priority, a team of dedicated elves have taken several steps to produce an experience that is fun, whimsical and one that will create cherished memories long past the season," Will Coss, Macy's vice president of branded entertainment, said in a statement regarding the Santaland events.
Though Macy's is bringing back in-person Santa visits at a smaller scale, the coronavirus pandemic may still affect how consumers celebrate the holidays with their loved ones. Per the CDC's Oct. 18 figures, the U.S. has surpassed 723,000 deaths from COVID-19, but only 57% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated. The CDC revised its guidelines for holiday travel this month, recommending that people remain masked in public indoor spaces and get vaccinated.