Strategic Shopping

Listening to the financial analysts we talk with, they want us to believe that it’s going to be a late holiday shopping season. It may, in fact, be just that. There are five fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year.

There are many reasons to put off shopping till the last minute, not the least of which is the pace of contemporary life.

Many parents want to wait until they get the “final” letter to Santa to communicate directly with the North Pole. And then there’s always the thought that there are going to be last minute sales. All of these are understandable.

But if what your kids want are the “hot” toys of the year? Well, that may be a different story. All our sources—both in the continental U.S. and the extreme north tell us that hot items like Elmo Live and Bakugan will be sold out by the first weeks of December. You’re unlikely to find deals on these products, and inevitably you’ll add to your frustration if you end up racing around to find them at the last minute.

Our best advice: If you know you want something and you see it. Buy it.

Better yet, most retailers have very generous return policies. Some up to 90 days. So, aside from tying up a few dollars, you have very little risk. Just be sure to check each store’s policies and save your receipts.

We think it’s also a good idea to get the little ones writing those letters to Santa early in the season. You can have a lot of fun with this as well, encouraging creative thinking. (We’ll post again on this in a couple of days.)

As for online shopping; it’s pretty much the same as going to a store. These shops have limited supplies of products as well, and while everyone is doing what they can to maintain in-stock positions, replenishing inventories can take a couple of weeks.

Our feeling is that a little bit of advanced strategic planning can minimize the stress of toy shopping. We’ll also write more about managing expectations in the next few days as well.

Of course, what are you going to do on December 22 when a little one announces for the first time that the only thing they want is a toy you’ve never heard of before? Well, that may call for some scrambling and a little bit of luck. But check back, and we’ll have some ideas for that as well.

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