Commercial Real Estate, Santa Claus and Holiday Traditions

by | 18 December 2019

It won’t be long until “the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.” Interestingly, Clement Clarke Moore, the author of the well-known poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, actually has a connection to the U.S. commercial real estate industry. More on that later.

Santa’s annual task of delivering Christmas presents to the world’s children presents a supply chain management and logistical nightmare that even Amazon would find daunting. Taking into account time zone differences, Santa has 31 hours to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. He has to travel roughly 317,000,000 miles at 1,800 miles per second all night without stopping in order to deliver all of the gifts. In a Saturday Night Live episode, John Malkovich reads the story to a group of children and grimly notes that the combination of the weight of the sleigh and the above-mentioned speed would create so much friction that Santa, sleigh and reindeer would “burst into flames like a meteor hitting the earth’s atmosphere.” Ho, Ho, Ho!

Gift-giving plays an important role in many holiday traditions and the season impacts retailers’ annual sales in a large way. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales this year are projected to increase by 3.8% to 4.2% compared with 2018. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday results are any indication, we’re well on our way to hitting that estimate. While ShopperTrak noted that the number of shoppers visiting brick-and-mortar stores was down 3% from last year, online sales rose 19.4% on Black Friday to $7.4 billion and soared to a record $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

As retailers, analysts and economists fret over such things, children the world over peer into the Christmas Eve sky hoping to catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf flying in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. In 1955, Sears Roebuck & Co. decided to capitalize on that interest through an advertisement that included a direct phone number to Santa Claus. However, instead of reaching Santa, a misprint in the ad listed the number of the CONAD Commander in Chief’s operations “hotline.” The military personnel staffing the command center decided to play along, giving children who called updates as to Santa’s location on radar and a tradition was born.

Now known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, the tradition continues, but in a much higher tech form. For a number of years, Santa’s progress has been tracked on an interactive website. At 3:00 PM EST on Christmas Eve, the Santa Tracker goes live, documenting Santa’s progress across the globe. One can follow along on multiple social media sites as well including, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

While children anxiously await the arrival of their gifts from the North Pole, adults often are confronted with the question of what to buy that someone special. If that becomes an issue, one can always follow the gift recommendations from the classic carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” For 36 consecutive years, PNC Bank, has calculated the prices of the twelve gifts described in the song in its annual PNC Christmas Price Index®. So what can one expect to pay this year for all twelve gifts? The answer is $38,993.59, an increase of only 0.2%over last year. Five golden rings will set you back $825, an increase of 10%. That increase, however, is nearly offset by the price for two turtle doves plummeting by 20% to $300. Geese have seen their value soar, increasing 7.7% this year after an 8.3% increase in 2018. But, by far, the most expensive gifts are seven swans-a-swimming, totaling $13,125. Ladies dancing, leaping Lords, pipers and drummers are a bargain in comparison.

What about that commercial real estate connection? In 1835, Clement Clarke Moore’s family founded a real estate company on their family farm in New York City’s Chelsea district. In the early 1960’s, Chelsea Moore Company relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio to focus on new real estate ventures and remains in operation, celebrating its 184th year. So, in a roundabout way, a 19th century commercial real estate practitioner, through a poem written for his children, set in motion an array of stories, traditions and entertainment about a rotund elderly gentleman whose sole purpose is bringing joy to the children of the world.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Prosperous New Year!

About the author:

Loren DeFilippo is the Director of Research for Colliers’ Ohio markets, providing analysis and insight on commercial property trends. Drawing on 30+ years of experience, Loren focuses on turning data into actionable intelligence for our clients and brokerage teams.