Where are the toys?

November 17, 2009 5:30:09 PM PST
Let the shopping games begin, but first a warning from experts: proceed with caution this season. Many retailers, afraid they'd see a repeat of last year's dismal sales because of the recession, cut back on inventory, causing a ripple effect.

Those much sought after hot items will be few and far between.

"Normally around December 1st, you see 10 to 15 toys that are in short supply. This year about 50 toys are in short supply," Jim Silver of timetoplaymag.com said.

Eight-and-a-half year old Austin knows exactly what he wants.

"It shoots up to 7 darts per second," he said.

The Nerf-n-Strike is hard to find and when you do, like many toys we tracked down, be ready to either pay big, wait or scale back.

At one website, it was priced at about 72 dollars. It's much cheaper at toysrus.com, but there's a purchase limit.

Then you have Zhu Zhu Pets, interactive mechanical hamsters. You won't find them online at Toys-R-Us. The fury creature costs about 10 dollars, but someone on Amazon.com hopes to get more than four times that.

With Mindflex, your own brain waves control a ball through a maze. Online it's going for about 145 dollars. At K-Mart, it's a whole lot cheaper.

Store manager charlie moore says, unlike many, this chain is optimistic and actually ordered up from last year.

"We expect a great 4th quarter this year. Customers are coming back. A lot of people had a tough year last year and are happy to spend this year," Moore said.

They're coming back to buy toys like a remote controlled car that follows a laser wherever you point it.

Experts say the best way to approach all of this -- do you homework and buy online now, but come December head to the stores.

"There's a higher chance that a consumer will make additional purchases, so better for the retailer to have in stores," Silver said.

We invite you to join us for a holiday shopping special during Eyewitness News at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

We'll also have a live chat on holiday gift etiquette during the special. Whether it's dropping someone from your list, tipping, returns or re-gifting, what do you want to know? Our special guest, Lisa Lee Freeman, will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday during Eyewitness News at 5:00 p.m.. Click here to submit questions.