It is a magical Christmas tradition adored by children, but this year Harrods has decided they will only be allowed to sit on Santa’s knee if their parents have spent enough in store.
For the first time the famous Knightsbridge department store has said its annual Santa’s grotto is “invite only”, making it accessible only to regular Harrods Rewards customers deemed to have splashed enough cash over the past 12 months.
The Daily Telegraph has been contacted Harrods shoppers with children who say they are so angry at being denied an invite to visit Santa that they are prepared to boycott the store.
One mother who claimed she had spent around £12,000 at Harrods over the past year said she “was made to feel like cr*p” after staff told her she was not a big enough customer to take her children to the grotto.
She claimed she was told by a member of staff that even people who had spent £15,000 in a year might not qualify to gain access.
Harrods declined to reveal what customers would have needed to spend to be invited to meet Father Christmas, claiming a “range of factors” including frequency of visit was also taken into account.
Another mother who was denied entry said the policy had put an end to a family tradition of twenty years. The woman was a Harrods Rewards customer who had spent around £250 over the past year, and was told this was not enough to qualify.
Harrods Rewards customers who are selected to attend the grotto are allowed to bring up to eight guests to meet Santa, which parents denied access to the grotto said they felt rubbed salt into the wound.
They will be charged £20 per child on entry, if they decide to take up the invite, which includes a visit to Santa as well as an “exclusive gift”.
A Harrods spokesman said: “The Harrods Christmas Grotto experience is, this year, available by invitation only. Customers invited to visit the Grotto this year were sent an email invitation on 22nd August.
“We care hugely about making a visit to the Grotto as magical as possible, therefore tickets are extremely limited. Each year, we are overwhelmed by requests for the Harrods Grotto experience, which we make every effort to facilitate. Unfortunately, we simply cannot meet the demand.”
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