Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Break out your running shoes. The most wonderful — or most frenzied and frustrating — time of the year is upon us: holiday shopping season.
The National Retail Federation anticipates shoppers will remain conservative with their gift-giving budgets, a trend in line with the past several years. That said, the average holiday shopper this year likely will spend $749.51 on items such as gifts, décor and greeting cards, according to an NRF survey conducted by BIGinsight. That chunk of change is up slightly compared with last year’s average of $740.57.
Gifts for family members will snag a large portion of that budget at $421.82, according to the survey.
Even so, Nadia Pomirleanu, assistant professor of marketing at UNLV, expects some consumers to go “back to the basics,” thus keeping their bank accounts intact.
“Instead of going for the newest, most expensive item, there’s a lot of resurgence for secondhand products or do-it-yourself (products),” she said.
Not everyone can pull off a dazzling creation inspired by a Pinterest post, though. That’s why retail experts deliver the standard holiday shopping advice: Start planning and execute that list early.
In the process, don’t forget to keep in mind the gift’s recipient.
“It’s important to remember when you’re shopping for kids this holiday season, there isn’t one hot toy,” said Adrienne Appell, a spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association. “You need to take a step back and make sure you’re thinking about what your child likes.”
Don’t have a panic attack just yet. Browse the following list of suggestions for kids (and a few for adults!) to get started.
Tablets for children
Don’t be too shocked: Like last year, electronic tablets for children will be popular, Appell said.
There are many brands on the market, such as the Kurio 7 by Techno Source, LeapPad 2 by LeapFrog and InnoTab 2 by VTech, Appell said. The tablets combine education with entertainment for the tech-savvy child. They also feature built-in cameras.
Prices vary based on brand and model.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Cinderella toys
For older generations, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cinderella are familiar faces. Thanks to a new show on Nickelodeon, the armor-clad turtles are making a comeback.
On Nov. 20, Disney will release a special-edition, two-movie collection featuring “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” and “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.”
As a result, the characters likely will be admired by a “whole new generation of kids,” Appell said. And the toy market has taken notice. Expect to see dolls, action figures and play sets featuring Cinderella and the Ninja Turtles.
Prices vary based on toy model.
Monster High dolls
They don’t look like your average Barbie. And that’s the point.
Monster High, a line of dolls with names like Draculaura and Abbey Bominable, has grown in popularity and branched into Web videos and fashion accessories, Appell said. The dolls are supposed to be the daughters of famous monsters.
“It’s all about their freakish flaws,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘It’s OK to be different.’”
The dolls typically retail for less than $30, but prices vary per doll.
The animated toy with a “mind of its own” is back. That’s right: Retail experts expect the updated Furby to show up again this year under many Christmas trees.
“The technology is a little bit better,” Appell said. “It’s more animated.”
One reason it might be a hit this year: “A lot of kids who grew up with Furby are parents now,” Appell said.
A Furby toy retails for $54 at Toys R Us.
For those parents or relatives looking for a more traditional toy, Appell suggested the following four games:
Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Who Shook Hook? (Retails for $12.99 at Toys R Us)
Fibber board game (Retails for $12.99 at Toys R Us)
The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game (Retails for $19.99 at Toys R Us)
Perplexus Epic 3D Puzzle (Retails for $20.99 at Toys R Us)
Appell said games never go out of style, in part because they involve multiple people.
“Kids — even though they’re used to technology — they like to play,” she said. “It’s a way families can bond together.”
Gifts for adults
Tablets fared well during the 2011 holiday shopping rush. That won’t change this year, especially with the release of Apple’s iPad mini, which starts at $329.
But for those seeking something different, Pomirleanu suggested these items, which she expects to be popular this year: helmet or point-of-view cameras, wine coolers and soda-making machines.
Prices vary based on brand.