In the run-up to Christmas, it’s usual for shops to run out of popular gifts and possibly even key elements of the festive dinner. But the United States is apparently facing an unusual type of shortage... Santas.

Speaking to Insider, hiresanta.com founder Mitch Allen said they had seen an 112 per cent increase in people wanting to hire a Santa for an upcoming event. However, they noted a supply-demand issue with 10 per cent fewer Santas.

This is said to be, in part, as a result of a high number of deaths among those who fulfil the Santa roles. “Several hundred Santas and Mrs Clauses, over the last 18 months, have passed away, and it’s just a tragedy,” Allen told The Washington Post.

Other Santas have opted to take a year out of the game, are wary of unvaccinated kids or have simply reached the age of retirement.

Santa Tim Connaghan, also known as the “National Santa” for his involvement in major parades and his role in Toys for Tots, explained that 18 per cent of surviving Santas are taking the year off – including him - in a bid to spend more time with family.

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“I’ve had all my shots and all my vaccinations, and I watch myself very closely,” he said. “But I want to remain cautious, you know, and I’m also encouraging other Santas to do the same.”

Allen said there are around 2,000 vacancies for hourly Santa gigs on hiresanta.com, in addition to 1,275 full-season Santa roles. What once cost around $30-an-hour has since increased to approximately $150. They’re in such high demand that an employee for a non-profit in Texas told the Post she paid $320 for two hours of a fake-bearded Santa through a site called GigSalad.

“I don’t even have a picture of the Santa. I don’t know what he looks like,” she told the Post. “The woman I spoke to on the phone for the company said that the Santa will reach out 48 hours before the event.”

It doesn’t stop there.

While there’s such a struggle to fulfil the demands of Santas, there are also additional supply chain issues with Santa costumes.

“There’s a lot of needed items that are still on the sea in containers,” a spokeswoman for the company Costumes for Santa told The Post. “Our wholesalers have not gotten their product from China ... Stuff that should have come in in August is coming in now.”

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