What Santa Needs for Christmas: 12M Elves
Distribution experts work out what massive delivery program requires
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2012 5:13 PM CST
A motorcyclist wearing a Santa Claus suit rides in downtown Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(Newser) – What happens when the magic of Santa Claus and Christmas meets the cold reality of modern supply chains and logistics? You get a massive distribution network that requires 12 million employees, some 40 times bigger than FedEx, reports NPR. NPR asked experts at FedEx and UPS how Santa might pull off his massive annual giveaway for the world's 760 million Christian children, assuming each got one present. This is what they came up with:

  • 46 distribution centers, with 400,000 workers to do the loading.

  • 60,000 workers just working on flight plans and optimization.
  • 40,000 "elves" to skate through customs.
  • 500,000 in administration.
  • 3.36 million moving gifts to distribution centers.
  • 7.3 million on "general assignment."
  • 100 meteorologists to skirt any blizzards.
And that's just for delivery and distribution—forget manufacturing or processing naughty and nice spreadsheets. Click for the full report.

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Dec 25, 2012 10:18 AM CST
Maybe we need less Santa Claus and more Jesus Christ in Christmas. He is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Dec 25, 2012 3:24 AM CST
Just send the children gift cards over the internet. Problem solved.
Dec 24, 2012 8:30 PM CST
The article left out some very major elves: Grandmas. Who else Christmas-shops all year long, snapping up "the perfect present" as soon as it becomes available? Who else concludes (and acts on the thought) "That would be a great Christmas present" every time the grandkid's interests and school work would benefit from something the grandkid does not yet have? Who else buys the kid's heart's desire, unaffordable to the parents, and marks the tag "From Santa" so the kid assumes it came from Mom and Dad? Who else happily shells out shopping money to cash-strapped sons and daughters so they can give the grandkids a good Christmas? Who else runs around to fight the crowds for those last-minute must-haves, because the parents are at work and the kids would be disappointed otherwise? Who else drives for miles, burning her own gas, and sneaks in on Christmas Eve (long past her bedtime) quietly to provide piles of presents to parents who will slide them under the tree and sing the praises of Santa the next morning as the gifts are opened? Not FedEx. Grandma. You're welcome.