Tablets, Turtles make "most wanted" holiday toy list
By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tablet computers, turtles and a new take on a furry old-timer are the hot toys retailers and manufacturers hope will spark a rebound from a dismal 2011 holiday season, according to a closely watched "Most Wanted" list released on Friday.
The industry is not just counting on best-selling toys to generate joy at the cash register. Major retailers are pushing more attractive layaway plans to lure shoppers into stores before they go elsewhere this holiday season.
Competition will be stiff over layaway: who's the earliest, with no fee or just a small fee.
"This year there is going to be more action early, and it's the battle of the layaway programs," said Jim Silver, editor in chief of TimetoPlay.com, which released its "Most Wanted List" of toys on Friday.
"Everybody is being super aggressive, announcing the hot items, saying 'come get it on layaway.'"
Walmart U.S., Wal-Mart's largest unit, brought layaway back a month early this year - giving shoppers who live paycheck-to-paycheck more time to pay for holiday gifts.
Toys R Us Inc offered layaway with no upfront fee, and soon after, Walmart cut its upfront fee to $5 from $15. The $5 fee will be returned in the form of a Walmart gift card if all payments are completed on time - as the $15 fee would have been.
Last year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc used the layaway strategy successfully to boost sales, taking toy shoppers away from the likes of Toys R Us and Target Corp. Continued...