Santa and tens of thousands of his merry elves are coming to town this weekend, but not all of them will be dressed in red, costume retailers predict.
Although SantaCon participants are notoriously last-minute shoppers – making it difficult to say what items will be popular until a few days before the event – some costume sellers said they have noticed a shift away from traditional red and white Santa suits.
Santa suits, particularly low-cost versions that can sell for little as $10, still remain popular, retailers said, but more customers have instead been opting for DIY outfits and holiday-themed get-ups inspired by popular films and folklore.
“You really don’t want to dress as the same thing as everyone,” explained Michael Esposito, the business development and affiliate marketing director of Costume SuperCenter, a New Jersey-based online retailer that sees a spike in business from the city’s SantaCon event.
Check out of some of the outfits retailers expect to be popular this year:
Pop Culture-Inspired Costumes
Costumes based on characters from holiday films and books, like Buddy the Elf, the Grinch and Elf on the Shelf have been gaining popularity in recent years, said Esposito. Other popular outfits include a “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” light-up Christmas suit and a pink bunny costume inspired by “A Christmas Story.”
Adult full-body suits have been so popular at Ricky’s NYC — which has four pop-up shops selling holiday costumes — the store has had trouble keeping them in stock, said Anna Daoud, the chain’s director of product research and development and senior trend buyer.
“I think it’s just a new way of doing it. It’s just more fun,” she said.
Halloween Adventure’s general manager Tony Bianchi had no idea who Krampus — a Christmas devil who who beats bad children and drags them to hell — was until a few SantaCon participants stopped in a few years ago to see if they could cobble together a costume.
“Years ago they didn’t make this stuff,” he said, but with a growing awareness of the dark character, fueled in part by a feature film that came out last weekend, he expects more people to request the $114.99 suit, which comes with furry arm and leg inserts as well as a horned mask.
Opposuits — similar to the three-piece versions men typically wear to work, except for the loud, head-to-toe patterns — have also been doing well at Costume SuperCenter, Esposito said. The suits come in a variety of colors and prints.
Ugly sweaters have also been a popular SantaCon outfit, and Bianchi and Esposito expect that trend to continue.
Over at Ricky’s, pin-on patches that allow customers to turn any sweater into an ugly sweater have popular, as well as tongue-in-cheek ugly sweater-inspired T-shirts, Daoud said.
Although the Christmas onesies have been flying off the shelves, Ricky’s has noticed a shift away from Santa suits in favor of holiday-themed accessories like mistletoe “boppers,” light-up Christmas necklaces and elf ears.
“I think people are really wanting to create their own costumes [and] be unique,” Daoud said, adding that the items’ lower price points also appeal to buyers.
“It’s all very kitschy and very fun and kind of affordable,” she said.