4 Tips to Plan for Holiday Toy Shopping

Want the holiday season’s hottest toys? Or maybe you want a retro game. Whatever the goal, with some holiday toys already in stores, shoppers may want to start planning their strategy ASAP.

GET THE HOT TOYS EARLY: Try shopping online because in a few clicks you can search sites like Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Amazon to find out quickly if the item is available. Also, it’s good to follow retailers on Twitter, where some post when they get in their next order of certain hot toys in the final weeks before Christmas.

KNOW WHEN THE SALES ARE: If you can afford to wait, stores offer toy discounts of up to 50 percent and also bundle toy deals during the Black Friday weekend. But the best time to get deals on basic toys is two weeks before Christmas, when toys are discounted up to 70 percent, according to DealNews.com. Take advantage of deal trackers. With CamelCamelCamel.com, shoppers can set up alerts when the price of an item falls to a certain level. It also offers a price history of all products sold on Amazon.

Overall, Amazon.com offers the lowest toy prices, with Walmart a close second, according to Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing for the DealNews site, which combed deals during last year’s holiday season. Target, Kohl’s and Toys R Us were ranked third to fifth.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LAYAWAY:  Walmart kicked off its layaway service in September and customers have until December 11 to pay off their account. As in past years, there’s no opening fee to start a layaway account but customers need to put down 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater. Shoppers can put items as low as $10 on layaway with a $50 minimum basket.

At Sears Holdings Corp.’s Kmart, members of the Shop Your Way loyalty program get special perks for the holiday season. They have a $1 down payment for in-store and online layaway contracts. For non-members, it’s a $10 down payment. For Sears, there’s no difference between members and non-members — they don’t have to put any money down for layaway in the store and can put just one penny down online at all times.

EMBRACE SERVICES: Walmart offers curb pickup for online shoppers at 1,000 stores — mostly for grocery items but also some seasonal general merchandise like toys. Walmart, Target and Sears also have pickup services inside the store for online shoppers. Many are trying to improve the speed of service.

Follow these tips and get a jump start (while saving money) this holiday season on toys!

Article Source: Anne D’Innocenzio for the Associated Press on USAtoday.com

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