London: Harrods, the 170-year-old high-end department store in London, has caused quite a stir after restricting access to its Christmas grotto where Santa Claus greets customers, only to those who spend 2,000 pounds ($2,550) or more, it was reported on Saturday.
The store said only those with a Green tier 2 or above Harrods Reward card can visit Father Christmas. In order to qualify for the tier, customers must have spent between 2,000 and 4,999 pounds ($6,386), The Daily Mail reported.
Distraught families, who have long visited the store’s Christmas grotto, slammed the decision saying Harrods was “behaving like the Grinch”.
“They have lost the true meaning of Christmas and given into the commercialisation of the season,” The Daily Mail quoted a customer as telling the Guardian newspaper.
“Visiting Father Christmas shouldn’t be reserved for those that are fortunate enough to frequent the store and spend thousands of pounds.”
Following outcry from disappointed families, Harrods has agreed to allow 160 lower-spending families the chance to visit the grotto.
They will be slotted in among a total of 4,400 10-minute appointments with Santa Claus starting on November 15.
Tickets to see Father Christmas cost 20 pounds per child and the grotto will operate in the five-and-a-half weeks until Christmas Eve on December 24.
A spokeswoman for Harrods said it was each year “overwhelmed by requests” to visit the grotto and that is struggles to meet demand.
“The Harrods Christmas Grotto is offered by invitation only to Harrods Rewards customers in recognition of their loyal custom throughout the year.
“Due to demand, we invite Harrods Rewards customers who are Green tier 2 and above the opportunity to book tickets,” she added.
There are four loyalty tiers at Harrods. These are: Green 1 Tier, which is spending up to 1,999 pounds; Green 2 Tier, which is spending between 2,000 to 4,999 pounds; Gold Tier, which is spending between 5,000 to 9,999 pounds; and Black Tier which is spending of 10,000 pounds and over.
The tier level depends on the customers’ spending from January 1 to December 31.