Malls say visits with Santa will be different this year, but still magical

Seventeen-month-old Siria Pirone reacts as she sits with a Santa Claus for a photo at a mall in Toronto on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Shopping centres say meeting Santa will be just as magical for children this Christmas, even if it has to be at a distance of two metres -- or via webcam.

At some malls, like Carrefour de l'Estrie in Sherbrooke, children will have a virtual connection to Santa Claus so they can tell him what they want for Christmas.

Malls managed by Cadillac Fairview, including Toronto's Eaton Centre, are offering both a virtual meeting with Santa and an almost traditional in-person visit.

With the need to maintain social distancing, however, children won't be able to sit on Santa's knee.

Photographers will take pictures from a perspective that makes it look like they aren't two metres apart.

Some malls say it's too early to say how they'll ensure kids can still meet Santa while respecting public health directives.

Deny Belisle, a marketing professor at the University of Sherbrooke, said malls face stiffer competition than ever from online retailers and have to find ways to set themselves apart.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2020.

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