The most toy-filled time of the year
Four tips as consumers start planning holiday shopping strategy for kids
NEW YORK — Want the holiday season’s hottest toys? Or maybe you want a retro game. Whatever the goal, with some holiday toys already in stores, shoppers may want to start planning their strategy.
That may mean buying the most popular toys whenever you can and focusing on deals afterward. After its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Toys ‘R’ Us has promised business as usual, though there could be some wrinkles if nervous suppliers hold back on shipments.
“If you are looking at the top 100 toys, you need to buy it earlier than later,” said Jim Silver, editor-inchief of TTPM, an online toy review site. “If you are looking for a classic board game, you can shop later.” The site offers shoppers information on the inventory of particular toys by store and also offers price comparison of toys.
Silver says that several toys like Spin Master’s Luvabella, an interactive baby doll, and BB-8, a toy droid inspired by the Star Wars movie series, are hard to get right now.
While some hot holiday toys run close to $200, there are plenty that are affordable like WowWee’s Fingerlings, interactive monkey figures that sell starting at just under $20. And shoppers are also starting to see better service. Toys ‘R’ Us, for instance, is adding demonstrators for the holiday season to show people how toys work and is opening Play Labs at 42 U.S. stores, areas where children can play with different items.
Some tips for toy shopping this year:
Get the hot toys early
Try shopping online because in a few clicks you can search such sites as Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us and Amazon to find out quickly if the item is available, Silver says. Also, it’s good to follow retailers on Twitter, where some post when they get in their next order of certain hot toys in the final weeks before Christmas.
Know when the sales are
If you can afford to wait, stores offer toy discounts of up to 50 per cent and also bundle toy deals during the Black Friday weekend in late November. But the best time to get deals on basic toys is two weeks before Christmas, when toys are discounted up to 70 per cent, according to DealNews.com, a deal comparison website. Take advantage of deal trackers. With CamelCamelCamel.com, shoppers can set up alerts when the price of an item falls to a cer- tain level. It also offers a price history of all products sold on Amazon.
Overall, Amazon.com offers the lowest toy prices, with Walmart a close second, according to Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing for the DealNews site, which combed deals during last year’s holiday season. Toys ‘R’ Us was ranked fifth.
Take advantage of layaway
Walmart kicked off its layaway service in September and customers have until Dec. 11 to pay off their account. As in past years, there’s no opening fee to start a layaway account but customers need to put down 10 per cent or $10, whichever is greater. Shoppers can put items as low as $10 on layaway with a $50 minimum basket.
Walmart, for instance, offers at 1,000 stores — mostly for grocery items but also some seasonal general merchandise like toys.
Cinnamon Boffa, right, from Bensalem, Pa., checks out a “Chubby Puppies” toy for her daughter Serenity, left, at a Toys R Us, in New York. With some holiday toys already in stores, shoppers may want to start planning their strategy.