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Wal-Mart enters holiday toy war

Retailers are rolling out discounts early. Let the holiday shopping season begin.

By Karen Datko Oct 12, 2010 4:08PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


Retail giant Wal-Mart has fired its first shot in the holiday toy wars, dropping prices on everything from a Nerf dart gun to a poochie potty-training Barbie.

With budgets tight, analysts expect many retailers to start cutting prices ahead of the usual Black Friday shopping kickoff, so families can spread out their holiday spending.


But, says Jim Silver, editor of, they won't necessarily be slashing prices on all of the hottest toys.


"You look at the toys they are discounting and it's not exactly the toys that will sell out," he says. Post continues after video.

Wal-Mart didn't say how many toys it was discounting, just that it would offer more $5, $10 and $15 options to meet people's budgets, and that it would discount toys as part of its weekly rollback promotion.


Some of the toys it is discounting starting today (Oct. 12)include:

Silver and others say this will be one of the more competitive holiday seasons in recent years, with more toy offerings and more places to buy them.


Toys R Us, which had been shuttering stores in recent years, plans to open 600 temporary stores in malls and other locations this holiday season. Silver said the company has also secured several exclusive toy lines that can't be found at its discount rivals.


Target Corp. said last week that it will discount half of the 2,000 toys it will offer this holiday season via weekly ads and offer a free shipping promotion near Thanksgiving.


All in all, research firm NPD Group expects spending on toys to rise 2% this year, after declining 1% to $21.47 billion last year.


And that may be at the expense of other gifts on consumers' lists. Wal-Mart said its research showed that more people are eliminating gifts for friends and extended relations this year, so they can focus their spending on immediate family.


"Even though the recession is technically over, lingering concerns are keeping consumers in a cautious frame of mind," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD. "We are seeing what I call 'calculated consumption.'"


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