Christmas is only 125 days away, but business isn't looking so jolly for Santa.
The Santa Claus Office, an attraction in the frozen north of Finland, is one week away from insolvency, the victim of a downturn in several European economies, according to Bloomberg News. The village, which is billed as "the official hometown of Santa Claus," provides children with the chance to meet St. Nick himself, as well as visit his post office, play with elves and eat reindeer sausage (not the kind that pull flying sleighs, presumably).
Business at the Santa Claus Office started to decline when tourists from Italy, Spain, Russia and Greece, all grappling with their own economics woes, stopped coming. The company that owns the attraction owes about $224,000 in taxes, which comprises most of its debt, CEO Jarmo Kariniemi told Bloomberg.
"The state of the global economy makes a big difference to our business," Kariniemi told the wire service. He added that he was "confident a solution will be found."
Santa's helpers posted a message on Facebook to reassure families and their tykes.
"We are a small family company, and times are not easy in global economy for us either, but we keep working for the spirit of Christmas," the post noted. "Despite the current news, let's keep smiling and work for a better future. Tide will change, we have a week to turn this around."
Finland is in its fourth year of economic contraction. Earlier this year, Bank of Finland governor Erkki Liikanen blamed the country's woes on "four shocks," including the troubles of phone giant Nokia and the country's paper industry, the aging of the baby boomer generation and high labor costs.
The country's prime minister, Juha Sipila, has pointed to the need for lower production costs, given that labor costs in Finland are as much as one-fifth higher than its primary trading partners, Bloomberg notes. Unemployment in the country is above 10 percent.
Without a quick solution, it seems Santa and his elves might get a visit from the Grinch this holiday season.