LeapPad 2 has front and back cameras and contain a variety of apps for kids to play learning games and listen to music.(Photo: Toys R Us)
Tablets for tots will likely top wish lists this holiday season,
though availability could be the problem it is every year for hot toys.
R Us released its hot toy list Wednesday, and Kmart's is out Thursday.
The lists offer parents a chance to get a jump on the search for the
latest trendy toy.
That may be necessary: A new survey shows
inventory levels won't be much better than last year, which could mean
bare store shelves and disappointed kids.
survey of retail CFOs found 55% said inventory levels this holiday
season will be the same as last year, while only 25% said they increased
the amount of merchandise purchased for the holidays, according to
accounting and consulting firm BDO USA's report out this week. It also
showed retailers are divided about whether too much or too little
inventory is the bigger risk to their holiday sales. With too much
inventory, stores are forced to make big post-holiday price cuts, which
cut into profits.
Toys R Us is offering one solution to worried
parents. Shoppers will be able to "reserve" certain toys with a 20% down
payment between now and Oct. 31. The service, which is similar to
layaway, includes any of the 50 toys on the retailer's "hot toy" list,
as well as the 14 "contenders" for the list. It can be used even if the
item isn't in stock at the time. Purchasers get an e-mail notification
when their orders are available and have until Dec. 16 to pick them up.
While the economy may still appear bleak for some shoppers, some experts say the holiday season is looking bright.
may just be one of the best years in a long time for toys," says Tina
Benitez-Eves, an editor who covers the toy industry for Gifts and Decorative Accessories magazine
and website. "For consumers, finding that sweet price point is always
going to be difficult, but even with this up and down economy, it's
possible that consumers may spend more this year."
consumers say it's far too early to think about holiday shopping, some
kids already have their lists all figured out. Abeni Ofunniyin, 31 of
Raleigh, N.C., says her daughter is begging for an iPad. She probably
won't get one, though. She's only 7. But her mother says she might find a
Kindle Fire under the Christmas tree.
The hottest toys this year
are about the past and the future, says Julia Fitzgerald, chief
marketing officer for sporting goods and toys for Sears Holdings,
parents company of Kmart and Sears.
An example of the two trends:
Hasbro is bringing back Furby. The new Furby has expressive LCD eyes,
interacts with iPads, and speaks "Furbish," learning English as your
child talks to it, says Fitzgerald.
"Furby is coming back with a vengeance," she says.
come, they go and then they come back again," says Benitez-Eves, the
magazine's business editor. "But educational, interactive toys, ones
with an added tech advantage, are definitely more appealing."
Furby hasn't been on store shelves for seven years, " in our
social-media, tech-infused times, the interactive component makes it
timeless," she says.
Futuristic high-tech toys that made Kmart's
hot toys list include tablets for kids like the LeapFrog LeapPad2, and a
Air Hogs Hover Assault remote-controlled helicopter by Spin Master,
which flies and shoots missiles. Back from the past is a Mickey Mouse
toy from Fisher-Price, but revamped as "Master Moves Mickey," with
"crazy hip-hop dance moves," says Fitzgerald.
The iPad and iPod
each made the National Retail Federation's top toy list last year, as
did LeapFrog products, which spokeswoman Kathy Grannis says "were hard
to come by." It was the first year iPad made the list, while iPods have
been a popular "toy" for longer.
Toys R Us Senior Vice President
Lisa Harnisch says tablets like its own Tabeo, and the LeapPad2 are
especially hot this year. While parents' iPads may look like fun for
kids, she says most parents would prefer less expensive and fragile
tablets that are pre-loaded with educational games and apps.