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
What Santa Needs for Christmas: 12M Elves
A motorcyclist wearing a Santa Claus suit rides in downtown Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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. (More Santa Claus stories.)

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