UK Department Store Limits Access To Christmas Grotto To The Wealthy

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, gonna find out who’s wealthy and can afford the price.

The venerable London department store Harrods is catching heat for limiting access to its Christmas Grotto to big spenders for the second year in a row.

The store, owned by the Qatari royal family, offered 4,400 slots to see Santa in his Swarovski crystal-encrusted chamber from Nov. 15 to Dec. 24.

But 4,240 of the 10-minute visits (for up to eight people at a time) were only open to those in possession of a high-level Harrods Rewards card.

Cardholders have to spend between 2,000 and 4,999 British pounds (around $2,500 to $6,400) at the store during the year. They also have to pay 20 British pounds (around $25) per child visiting the grotto.

The store introduced the restrictions last year. Previously, anyone could apply to visit Santa.

This year, Harrods did make available 160 slots (just 3.6% of the total offering) to people without a loyalty card. They could apply via the store’s “Wishing Well” lottery-style competition.

“Harrods is behaving like the Grinch who stole Christmas,” London-based marketing director James Browne, who has taken his three children to visit the grotto on multiple occasions over the last 15 years, told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, which first reported the story on Friday.

“They have lost the true meaning of Christmas and given into the commercialization of the season,” Browne added. “Visiting Father Christmas shouldn’t be reserved for those that are fortunate enough to frequent the store and spend thousands of pounds.”

People on Twitter also got into the spirit:

Tickets for this year’s grotto have now sold out, according to the Harrods website.

A store spokesperson defended the restrictions.

“The Harrods Christmas Grotto is offered by invitation only to Harrods Rewards customers in recognition of their loyal custom throughout the year,” the spokesperson said in a statement to HuffPost. “Due to demand, we invite Harrods Rewards customers who are tier Green 2 and above the opportunity to book tickets.”

Each year, we are overwhelmed by requests for this special experience, which we make every effort to facilitate. We care hugely about making a visit to the Grotto as magical as possible, therefore tickets are extremely limited. Unfortunately, we simply cannot meet the demand for places.