Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but he won’t be at Macy’s (M) this holiday season.
The department store’s 159-year-old tradition of Santa meet-and-greets has been canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 250,000 people visit Macy’s flagship New York City store each year to see Santa, and losing that foot traffic makes an already difficult holiday shopping season that much more challenging.
"To replicate the magical experience of visiting Macy's Santaland for children and their families, we will shift to a virtual engagement this year," said Susan Tercero, Macy's vice president of Branded Entertainment.
From November 27 to December 24, you can visit macys.com/santaland to take a free virtual tour of Santa’s village and workshop, meet Santa and his elves through an interactive video, tell him your wish list and even take a selfie with the big man himself, which families can then immediately download.
Tercero tells Yahoo Finance that Macy’s will also feature Santa across all of its social media platforms so kids of all ages can “create moments” with Old Saint Nick on Facebook (FB) and Instagram.
Santa may be virtual at Macy’s, but he will pop up at many brick and mortar malls this holiday season. Brookfield Properties, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management Property Partners (BAM) and the second largest mall operator in the country, said Santa will be in 134 of its more than 150 malls.
There won’t be any sitting on his lap, though you can still tell him your wish list from six feet away while wearing a mask.
Santa will still be the grand finale of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but that will also look different this year.
In September, Macy's announced it would shift the event to a "television-only special presentation."
“It will look familiar to the 50 million viewers who watch the parade on TV every Thanksgiving morning,” said Tercero. “You’re still going to get the pageantry, you’re still going to get the same things you look for every single year.”
That includes 26 floats, Broadway performances and those iconic balloons, including two new additions this year: Boss Baby and Ryan’s Red Titan superhero.
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.