Toy shortage season arrives early
Recession-battered retailers have reduced inventories, making many must-haves hard to find.
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:
- Zhu Zhu Pets, interactive mechanical hamsters and accessories.
- Mattel's Mindflex, a helmet that measures brain activity.
- Hasbro's Nerf N-Strike, a line of toy guns that shoot foam darts.
- Barbie Fashionistas, dolls that twist their hips and strike poses.
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.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Those shackled with student loan debt are increasingly being targeted by scams and shady companies promising relief.