MOUNT VERNON — Although Christmas is still nearly two months away, retailers have been preparing for the holiday shopping season since Dec. 26, 2008. They already have an idea what toys children will be dreaming of when they sit down to write their lists for Santa this year.
Toys-R-US has a list of what toys are expected to be the hottest sellers this year. Along with some traditional favorites, there are some new names on the list which some parents and grandparents may not be familiar with. Yet.
A manufacturer’s price reduction is expected to make the Wii video game console even more popular than it has been the past two Christmases, when retailers had trouble keeping the game on the shelves. At a suggested price of $199, the game costs hundreds less than it did previously. This is one item parents will want to shop for early, since local stores do still have some of these hot listmakers in stock.
Tickle Me Elmo and Elmo Live are expected to be high on the list of topsellers again this year. According to Paul Dawes, Mount Vernon Wal-Mart toy department manager, Transformers toys remain popular with local youngsters.
“The hottest toys all together in 2009 has been Transformers,” especially with the release of the movie, said Chuck Nixon, Kmart store manager.
Dawes said Webkins also remain popular locally. These stuffed toys come with a code which children can use to play online games, and have been popular the past few Christmases. Webkins are sold at several local retailers.
Tonka’s Chuck My Talking Truck is also expected to be popular with preschool age boys who love construction equipment. Toys like this one are still available locally, but are expected to be more difficult to find as the holidays approach.
Bakugon toys which “change” from one object to another when you throw them have been growing in popularity locally, according to Dawes, who orders them regularly.
“Those are really hot,” he said.
At the top of many projected lists for sales this Christmas is a toy the name of which many parents have not yet heard, but they will. Zhu Zhu Pets are stuffed hamsters which retail for between $8 and $10, (although some online retailers are already taking advantage of their popularity and selling them as high as $35) which have different names and colors. A button on their nose produces a sound unique to each Zhu pet.
“The hottest toy this season is Zhu Zhu pets. And we don’t have any,” said Nixon. “We get requests all day long looking for Zhu Zhu pets.”
“I can’t keep them here,” Dawes said of the little furry toys which are not on the shelves right now at Wal-Mart or Kmart. “I do have them on order but as soon as I get them in, they’re gone.”
Shop early is the apparent warning this Christmas for parents whose children have these popular toys on their list.
A few hardware stores will be carrying specialty toys this holiday season for popular gifts as well. With the holidays comes the snow, G.R. Smith Hardware expects to have sleds, both plastic and metal runner sleds for gift ideas for youngster.
“We do sell quite a few of them,” said Bill Kramer, store manager.