11/18/2010 1:00 PM ET|
The holiday toy price war is on
The three big holiday retailers for kids' stuff are battling it out with lower prices and bigger selections. And more choices could help -- no toy has emerged as this year's 'must-have' gift.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us maneuver to win the hearts, minds and credit cards of holiday toy shoppers.
Wal-Mart staged a pre-emptive strike the first week of November, slashing some of its prices to within a few cents of Target's. But, hoping to be a moving target, Target is putting about half of its 2,000 toys on sale this year, double last year's number.
Both big retailers have expanded the number of toys in their inventory this year. Wal-Mart had reduced its toy selection by as much as 30% in recent years but, in this year's slightly more robust economy, the retail giant is hoping its customers will dig a little deeper to fill their children's stockings.
Toys R Us isn't emphasizing price-cutting this year. Instead it's stocking a wider variety of toys and a broader selection of "exclusive" toys. It also offers a loyalty program that returns 10% on holiday purchases up to $500. The rebate is a store credit, not cash.
Retailers are hoping, as they do each year, that spending on toys will be a bright spot in an otherwise dim year. Cash-strapped, pessimistic consumers generally cut back on luxury items, home electronics and other big-ticket items but can usually be persuaded to pony up to spread holiday cheer among their children. Besides, toys are relatively cheap.
So far there's no clear leader in the annual race to be the "must-have" toy but, for the slightly older crowd, the elves at Microsoft may have finally connected with holiday shoppers. The Xbox Kinect, the company's motion-sensor gaming platform, is generating a lot of buzz, or at least a lot of hype. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)
It's been reported that the Xbox has already sold out its preorder applications at many retail outlets, and gaming industry insiders are predicting the Kinect will be the must-have toy for gamers this year.
Last year's big toys for youngsters were Zhu Zhu Pets, you may recall. Nothing has yet emerged to replace that this year, but the Los Angeles Times reports that parents and kids are buzzing about squishy pencil toppers, a Barbie doll that comes equipped with a functioning video camera and toy musical instruments that can be played by touching the paper surface.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. 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 SIX Financial Information.