Too many shopping centre Santas leave children “confused”, according to a major department store in the UK, which has decided to close its grottos this year.

While Christmas may be a battleground for stores, Debenhams has decreed that competition in the Santa stakes is unfair on its younger customers.

It has decided that Father Christmas and his grotto will go, after feedback showed that youngsters were left bewildered by seeing one Santa in one store, and then another elsewhere.

A spokesman said: “Due to the majority of our stores being in town centre or shopping centre locations, these sites already had their own locally run Santa’s grottos. To avoid confusing children and spoiling the magic for them by having two Santas in one location, we are not having them in stores this year.”

However, parenting groups said the company’s research did not tally with their experiences.

Siobhan Freegard of Netmums told the Telegraph the decision was “a real shame”.

“Kids aren’t as cynical as adults, they don’t question everything and are unlikely to wonder why they may have seen more than one.

“We’ve actually found that if anything, there aren’t enough Santas around this year.”

And Justine Roberts of Mumsnet told the paper: “The only complaints we have on the subject are that grottos appear too early in the year.” – Daily Mail