50% of shoppers with children 13 years old or younger go to the mall just to visit Santa, according to new research from the International Council of Shopping Centers.
And even small kids want to see the “most realistic” Santa and will comparison shop — and loyally return to the best one year after year, according to the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.
After some lean times for mall Santas during and after the recession, the practice is picking up, in some cases with elaborate set-ups in malls including "Elfie Selfie" stations and digital installations, reports Ad Week.
Even as e-commerce is expected to grow this holiday season, there’s still a certain kind of shopper who’s especially willing to brave the holiday shopping crowds at the mall, and that’s the one with smaller children who want to spend time with Santa.
"In terms of driving more traffic? Absolutely," ICSC spokesperson Jesse Tron told Ad Week, when asked if mall Santas pull more people through the doors.
Perhaps that’s also why Wal-Mart will be adding photo opportunities with Santa Claus to many of its stores this year in a push to improve the store experience for holiday shoppers.