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Toy shortage season arrives early

Recession-battered retailers have reduced inventories, making many must-haves hard to find.

By MSN Money producer Nov 9, 2009 11:52PM

Zhu Zhu Hamster © Mark Lennihan / AP

If toys are on your Christmas shopping list, you might want to hit the stores now as many of the season's hottest items are already in short supply, The Associated Press reports.

Don't blame overeager parents and collectors. Retailers stung by the recession have cut inventories in anticipation of a repeat of last year's dismal shopping season.


The hot toys this year, according to the AP:

These are just the tip of the toy-shortage iceberg. Jim Silver, an analyst at Timetoplaymag, told the AP he predicted shortages of up to 100 toys this year. In a usual season, only the top 15 are hard to find.


Could this just be hype from manufacturers and retailers to promote products and get shoppers into stores? News stories about toy shortages are an annual tradition -- every season has its unexpected big hits. (The first three links in a quick search are to news stories about shortages from 2006, 2007 and 2008.) But if the analysts and the AP's anecdotal evidence are correct, now's the time to buy -- not after Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, there are thousands of entertaining and amusing toys that are guaranteed to be available all season. You don't have to buy into the hype.


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