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The Hot Holiday Toy This Year Is…

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Holiday sales may be up this year, but some retailers have still managed to find the cloud in the silver lining: unlike years past when hot commodities like Tickle Me Elmo or Zhu Zhu Pets pushed parents into buying frenzies, no single toy has broken away from the pack as a runaway hit.

In a recent survey by UBS and America’s Research Group, more than half of parents said they felt there was no must-have toy this year. But instead of being happy about the prospect of avoiding knock-down-drag-out brawls in the toy aisles, a third of respondents said that because nothing is “new,” it’s actually making shopping more difficult.

As a result, retailers afraid of being stuck with shelves of leftover inventory are stocking less in the final days before Christmas and are relying much more heavily on classic toys to keep sales strong. Shipments of Legos are up 155 percent from this time last year, while those of Hot Wheels and Barbie merchandise have risen 43 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Still, toy imports dropped nearly 10 percent in August and September from the numbers seen in 2010.

“When retailers are actually placing orders, they’re doing so with a very classic mind-set,” said Josh Green, chief executive of Panjiva, a supply-chain data company. “One sign of caution is betting on products that people [already] know and understand.”

[The New York Times]

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