Santa Claus: A Financial Analysis

Dec 12, 2012   //   by Daniel Morris   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Santa Claus: A Financial Analysis

We all know the man by a different name; Santa Claus, St Nicholas, Père Noël… but Father Christmas is a character we all recognise. From his red jacket to his white beard, we all know Santa when we see him sitting in the local shopping centre.

But what if someone actually wanted to become Santa? What would the financial implications be of turning yourself into the most giving man on Earth? Well, we decided to answer this question (with a little help from our elves).

Santa’s Favourite Song: With a Little Elf From My Friends

One of the most famous aspects of the Santa story is his workshop of magical elves. They help him to build all of the toys for the boys and girls (and the big kids too) across the world. They’re a hard-working bunch of mystical creatures that live up in the North Pole and are more than happy to spend their time slaving away to bring joy to everyone on Christmas day.

But they’re not going to do it for free! Would you? Thought not.

Let’s say that Santa has a thousand helpers – magic makes the work go a lot faster (let’s suggest fast enough to make 6 presents per minute) so he doesn’t need more than that – that build gifts for him in the workshop. If he pays them at the average global minimum wage, that would mean that each elf would be paid around £11,291 per year for their work.

If we suggest that every elf has an equal pay for the year, that would bring it to a grand total of £11,291,000 in wages for the year.

Santa’s Favourite Film: A Clear and PRESENT Danger

So we’ve got the workforce, time to make the presents. But that means more costs.

Despite the fact that we are just taking the first steps out of recession, it has been estimated that the average family will be spending approximately $422.34 (£262.28) on gifts for immediate family this year [1].

If we take the number of those who worship Christ or celebrate Christmas (the two major groups being Christians and Pagans) then that means we have a total number of around 3,208,530,000 people receiving presents this Christmas. With the global ratio of adults to children at 2:1 respectively, we can assume that each household will have approximately 3 people in it, meaning that each family member will have a present worth £87.43.

Then all that’s left to do is multiply this figure by the number of people celebrating the festival, giving us a grand total of £280,521,777,900 on presents!

Santa’s Favourite Book: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (There’s Also Lumps of Coal)

That seems like a huge amount of money to spend on gifts. Let’s make it a little simpler: an orange for those on the good list and a lump of coal for those on the naughty list. That’ll be a lot cheaper for poor old St Nick. So let’s have a look at the two extreme options – all good and all bad – and see how much we’d have to spend as the jolly man in red to make everyone happy (or not).

First off, the good list:

Let’s say that Santa has his oranges grown for him in California as they’re the cheapest place in America to buy oranges. At the current rate a crate of them – weighing 80lbs – costs around £6.35. And the average weight of an orange is around 200g. So, this means that there are approximately 182 oranges in each crate that Santa buys.

To cater for everyone that is putting their stocking out on Christmas Eve, we’ll need a massive 17,629,286 crates of oranges. This will cost around £112,201,823.47 to purchase at the standard, non-discounted rate.

So what about the naughty list?

If you search for a lump of coal on Google’s Shopping search engine, you’ll find that the average price for one is around £1.87 (considerably higher than the 3 pence for each orange we spent previously), so let’s use this as our price and say that it would cost an outstanding £5,999,951,100 to put a single lump of coal in each stocking.

Just shows you that it’s actually more cost effective to be good this year. Think about that next time you have the choice to be naughty or nice.

Santa’s Favourite Metal Band: Sleigher

Having these presents is all well and good. But how are you going to deliver them all in a single night without any transportation? That’s where Santa’s trusty sleigh comes in!

Although it is powered by magic-fuelled reindeer, the sleigh itself still needs maintenance to make sure it’s in tip-top condition come December 24th.

To give it a lick of paint and to keep it in working condition for the long journey each Christmas would cost around £622.04, but this can be spread out over the course of the year totalling just over £50 a month. Not bad, compared to the presents that will be on-board it.

Deer Santa, Remember to Feed Rudolph

Speaking of those reindeer, that’s some more costs. Keeping his trusty fleet of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will also mean parting with some more money.

Now there’s no cost for keeping magical reindeer, so we’re going to have to improvise and use the costs for keeping a horse instead.

To have a full livery, account for hay/straw that is required for food and bedding, feed and all medical checks that are required, you’re probably looking at a cost of £8,462.50 per deer for a year.

With Santa having nine reindeer, this equates to around £76,162.50 to keep the deer in top shape ready for their journey across the globe at Christmas.

So Just How Much Does Santa Spend a Year?

Now obviously, there are more costs to take into account, such as tax and utilities – although we can just pretend that it’s all taken care of by ‘magic’ for the sake of making this easier to understand – but for the grand total of just handing out presents to everyone, anyone planning on becoming Père Noël will have to fork out :


(Think I’ll just stick to buying a box of chocolates to stick under the tree personally.)

However, if we went back to only having just an orange for Christmas, as is traditional, Santa would only have to fork out £123,568,985.98 which is under half of the amount he would have spent otherwise.

How much will you be spending this Christmas? Is it anywhere near as much as St Nick? Let us know in the comments below

[1] Based on figures found by The National Retail Association of America.

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