Think you got money problems? New York's Santa Clauses are going to have to tighten their (big, shiny, brass-buckled) belts, what with stores and companies drastically scaling back their holiday plans to save money in this most economically bleak of yuletide seasons.
The New York Post interviewed a passel of area St. Nicks and found that most can't book a gig this year. Some of those who can find work say they won't make enough to cover cleaning costs on their costumes. And one Lower East Side Claus breaks it down numbers-wise, revealing that he's looking at a pre-tax $3,000 haul for the season, down from a whopping $30,000 in 2006. (We're sorry they're hurting and all, but is anyone else surprised to hear that pro Kringles can potentially make more in six weeks than most entry-to-mid-level journalists make in a year?)
Apparently Fortunoff and Saks Fifth Avenue have slashed their hourly Santa rate from $125 to $50, while other (unnamed) employers are paying out in meal and hotel room barters. Still others have opted to go Nickless for the first time in decades.
According to a related Wall Street Journal piece on recession dampening holiday cheer, the problem is national -- and the situation so dire that the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas even called an emergency summit to discuss economic survival. In other news, there's an Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. (And yes, they do have a website -- thanks for asking.)