Macy’s flagship 34th Street store made plenty of local headlines this weekend with news of its decision to require parents to make reservations in order for their kids to get a picture with Santa Claus.
It’s the first time in 155 years that an appointment would be needed for some quality time with Old Saint Nick.
Macy’s claims it’s implementing the policy to reduce wait time and congestion at its Santaland.
“Santa’s a popular guy, so the wait times to meet him have been quite long in previous years, especially on our busiest days,” Macy’s posted on its website. “The new reservation system is designed to minimize this by scheduling visitors to join the line at a time of your choice, allowing for the best possible holiday experience.”
To that, Macy’s gets a giant, Bah Humbug! And maybe some coal in its Christmas stocking.
Long lines and congestion are part of the Christmas scene in the Big Apple, which as the old cliché goes, is the most magical time of the year in NYC. Tourists love to boast to the folks back home about the long lines and big crowds.
Indeed, Macy’s contributes to the mayhem. The Herald Square facility, which still bills itself as the world’s largest store—though it is one million sq. ft. smaller than the monster Shinsegae Centumcity Department Store that opened for business in Busan, South Korea in 1989—is a magnet for shoppers during the Christmas season.
It’s hypocritical for Macy’s to worry about crowd control upstairs when Christmas shoppers are packed like sardines on the store’s main floor and (hopefully for Macy's) standing in long lines to pay for their treasures.
But the biggest obstacle to the success of the new policy: Is Macy’s going to ban a heartbroken four-year-old boy or girl from giving a Christmas list to Santa. C’mon. Talk about bad PR.
It’s also bad for business. Would any parent spend a nickel at a place that banned his/her kid from Santa’s lap? The retailer would write-off the future shopping dollars of the kids that it turned away from Santa.
A jaded New Yorker—like me—suspects the new policy of Macy’s, which isn’t turning in hefty profits these days, is trying to save a couple of bucks by eliminating the need for a Kris Kringle or two for the Santa season that runs from Black Friday to Christmas Eve.
If Macy’s is able to pull off the call-ahead for Santa policy without a PR hitch, it would be the second “Miracle on 34th St.”
A wiser bet: Macy's emerges as the new Grinch.