Visitors entering Harrods’ Christmas grotto this year need to have spent at least £2000 in store over the past year to have that privilege, leaving many customers unimpressed.
The luxury department store announced that families who want to visit its Swarovski-sponsored Christmas Grotto, which features Santa, must have spent at least £2000 in store between January and August this year.
When the grotto first opened in 1955 it was free – but this year parents will have to fork out another £20 per child as well as the minimum spend.
According to the Harrods booking page, the grotto is already fully booked.
One regular visitor accused the retailer of “behaving like the Grinch who stole Christmas”, for charging an exorbitant amount to enter the grotto.
Others took to Twitter to express their dismay.
— Pam Downes FCILEx (@PamDownesLtd) November 10, 2019
This is pure BULLSHIT with tinsel wrapped around it. When I worked as an elf there in 2001 it was free for every kid (with songs & a gift & cookies & water) & thousands came. Elitism & exclusion are worse across the spectrum, who knew? https://t.co/ExT1HXK5MY
— Kerry Hudson (@ThatKerryHudson) November 9, 2019
In response to the backlash, Harrods announced it would allow 160 families to visit for free.
The families will be selected through a “wishing well”, with 10 names chosen per day.
However, The Guardian reported that wealthier families would still be given 96 per cent of the available time slots.
Running from November 15 until Christmas Eve, Harrods’ Secret Forest Grotto is described as “a snow-covered woodland filled with sparkling surprises,” with visitors promised an exclusive gift from Santa.
According to Harrods’ website, only those who achieve Green 2 Tier or above in the store’s loyalty program are “eligible for an invitation to (the) grotto”.
Members need to have unlocked the status by August 26 to be invited to the grotto — meaning they would have had to have spent more than £2000 in Harrods between January 1 and the cut-off date.
Visiting the grotto costs £20 per child, while adults and children under three can visit for free.