At the end of an improving, if mediocre, year for retailers, consumers are so far spending more for the holidays. After Black Friday sales jumped by what ShopperTrak reports to be a 6.6 percent year-on-year increase, to $11.4 billion, Cyber Monday sales increased 22 percent, to $1.3 billion, ComScore says. “How Americans will react to shaky economic data is the question, but the good news for retailers is that shoppers have not yet thrown in the towel,” said National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a report. So what are the hot items this year? Rather than seek suggestions from retailers, Businessweek.com asked Panjiva, a trade-data firm that tracks waterborne shipments, to identify the most-shipped holiday products from August through October, the period when most shipments arrive at U.S. ports for the year-end shopping season. Based on data from U.S. Customs Bill of Lading forms for 75 popular gift items during that period, U.S. retailers expect the most demand for toys, clothing, and electronics accessories, according to Panjiva. Shipments of Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Legos predominated, along with grownup products such as champagne and memory foam bedding.
Click here to see the top holiday imports in 2011, based on the number of shipments.
Photographer: Stan Honda/Getty Images
No. 23 Hot Holiday Import: Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Dolls
Total No. of Shipments*: 167 Main exporter*: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers*: MGA Entertainment (Hong Kong), Anqing Banner Outdoor Product (China), Longshore (Hong Kong)
Toy maker MGA Entertainment is betting on kids’ love of hairstyling with Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Dolls, which feature hair that bends, curls, twists, and straightens and come with hairstyling products such as brushes, clips, and hair beads. These dolls made the Toys R Us2011 Holiday Hot Toys List.
*Data source on all slides: Panjiva. As carriers can list items on U.S. Customs Bill of Lading forms generally or by brand, the list includes both brand-specific items and broader product categories. Typically, the ratio of shipments to product units is the same across different products, so shipment numbers are comparable across product categories for the August-October period, according to Panjiva.
Image courtesy of MGA Entertainment
No. 22 Hot Holiday Import: UGG shoes
Total No. of Shipments: 170 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: Continuance Enterprises (Hong Kong), Xinji City Baodefu Leather (China), Gold Plenty International (Taiwan)
Americans can’t get enough of this Australian-style shoe. UGG maker Deckers Outdoor (DECK), based in Goleta, Calif., announced in October that higher sales of UGG boots had helped third-quarter profit rise 48 percent year-on-year.
Image Courtesy of Uggs
No. 21 Hot Holiday Import: E-readers
Total No. of Shipments: 200 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: All Technology (China), Inventec Appliance Pudong (China), Inventec Hi Tech (China)
Developers from Amazon (AMZN) and Sony (SNE) to Barnes & Noble (BKS) and others have been busy launching e-readers to capture growing demand. With many options in the market now, including products selling for less than $100, it’s no wonder these devices will be widely available this holiday season.
Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg
No. 20 Hot Holiday Import: Poppin Park Elefun
Total No. of Shipments: 214 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Hasbro Far East (Hong Kong), Hasbro (China), Hasbro (Switzerland)
What child wouldn’t want to play ball with a smiling blue elephant? This Hasbro (HAS) toy for young children, which made the Toys R Us 2011 Holiday Hot Toys List, pops balls from the elephant’s trunk and plays music.
Image Courtesy of Playskool
No. 19 Hot Holiday Import: Angry Birds merchandise
Total No. of Shipments: 234 Main exporter: Hong Kong/China Biggest suppliers: Jiangsu Sunshine Dongsheng Imp. & Exp. (China), JDH Toys (Hong Kong), Kambo Manufacturing (Hong Kong)
This wildly popular video game created by Finnish computer game developer Rovio, has spawned a line of merchandise that includes Angry Birds plush toys, keychains, and mugs. Christmas bird and pig plush toys retail for $14.99.
Photographer: Henrik Kettunen/Bloomberg
No. 18 Hot Holiday Import: Monster High products
Total No. of Shipments: 277 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Fantastic Ideas International (China), Mattel Brands, a division of Mattel Asia Pacific Sourcing (Hong Kong), P.T. Tun Yun Garment Indonesia (Indonesia)
In June 2010, Mattel (MAT) launched the Monster High franchise, which includes dolls, an apparel line, books, a website, webisodes, and Halloween costumes. This was Mattel’s first in-house toy brand launch since Hot Wheels made its debut in 1968. According to a press release, the Monster High and Disney Princess doll lines helped drive up worldwide gross sales for Mattel’s “Other Girls” brands (Polly Pocket, Little Mommy, Disney Classics, and Monster High) by 32 percent, year-on-year, in the third quarter.
Courtesy of Mattel
No. 17 Hot Holiday Import: Pillow Pets
Total No. of Shipments: 351 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: In Toys (F.E.) (Hong Kong), Pudong Prime International Logistics (China), Anhui Changxing Arts & Crafts Toy (China)
These cuddly stuffed animals, which double as pillows, were introduced in 2003 by San Diego mom Jennifer Telfer. In 2010, maker CJ Products reported about $300 million in sales. Pillow Pet products include pillows, blankets, hats, slippers, books, and games.
Courtesy of Pillow Pets
No. 16 Hot Holiday Import: Gift-card holders, boxes, and so forth
Total No. of Shipments: 378 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: Shantou Jindong Craft Factory (China), Power Printing Products (Hong Kong), Eureka Enterprises (Hong Kong)
Widely available at supermarkets, drug stores, and other retailers, gift cards can be irresistible to (desperate) last-minute shoppers. As gift-card giving proliferates, gift-card holders and boxes have also become popular, showing that presentation still counts.
Photography by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
No. 15 Hot holiday import: Elmo merchandise
Total No. of Shipments: 384 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Hasbro S.A. OB Jetta (China), Elmo Industry (Thailand), Main Choice International (Hong Kong)
Is it his red fur, his positive attitude, or that he laughs easily? For whatever reason, kids love Elmo. This year’s hot Elmo toy is from Hasbro (HAS): Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo, which plays the tambourine, drums, and sings.
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
No. 14 Hot Holiday Import: Toy Story movies and merchandise
Total No. of Shipments: 622 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Playtek c/o Phoenix International (China), What Kids Want International (Hong Kong)
Sixteen years since the first Toy Story movie came out in 1995, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story gang remain popular characters. Disney (DIS) estimates Toy Story to be its fourth-largest merchandise franchise in 2010, after Mickey Mouse, Pooh, and the Princess doll collection. The company expects Toy Story 3 merchandise to generate more than $7.3 billion at retail, reported Bloomberg Businessweek in June.
Photographer: Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg
No. 13 Hot Holiday Import: IPhone accessories
Total No. of Shipments: 695 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: CCL (Hong Kong), Philips Electronics (Hong Kong), Kysho Multimedia (Hong Kong)
Product developers have introduced a wealth of accessories for the Apple (AAPL) iPhone, from chargers and cables to cases and docks. Global sales of accessories made by Apple or branded by Apple are expected to reach $2 billion to $3 billion in 2011, reports the Fiscal Times.
Photographer: Vijay Paruchuru/Bloomberg
No. 12 Hot Holiday Import: Ponchos
Total No. of Shipments: 785 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Inland (Phillipines), Well Kind Industrial Group (Hong Kong), Joylink Industrial Group (Hong Kong)
Ponchos are hot this year. Women’s models appeared on runways in the Fall 2011 New York Fashion Week and quickly went from frumpy no-no to fashion statement. These garments are not merely for style: Many consumers even use ponchos for rainwear.
Karl Prouse/Catwalking/Getty Images
No. 11 Hot Holiday Import: IPad accessories
Total No. of Shipments: 801 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: CCL (Hong Kong), Cyber Acoustics (Hong Kong), San Ying Package Enterprise (Taiwan)
The Apple (AAPL) iPad’s huge success triggered more shipments of iPad accessories to the U.S. from August to October than of iPhone accessories, show data from Panjiva. A vast array of covers, cases, and cables have been created for the popular tablet.
Photographer: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
No. 10 Hot Holiday Import: Christmas stockings and decorations
Total No. of Shipments: 893 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Ningbo Quality Imp. & Exp. (China), Shanghai East Best Arts & Crafts (China), Simple Symbol (Hong Kong)
This Christmas will see no shortage of stockings, stocking holders, and stocking decorations, based on the number of shipments coming into the U.S. Fireplaces and store windows around the country are sure to look festive.
Photographer: Amy Postle/Getty Images
No. 9 Hot Holiday Import: Wool scarves
Total No. of Shipments: 1,117 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: PT Matahari Sentosa Jaya (Indonesia), Shanghai Broadway International Trading (China), BCBG Max Azria Group (China)
A wool scarf is really the perfect gift when you don’t know what else to buy, aside from a gift card. With scarves, you don’t need to guess anyone’s size, so the hard part is choosing a color and pattern. Could clothes shopping get much easier?
Photographer: Martin Soeby/Gallerystock
No. 8 Hot Holiday Import: Hot Wheels
Total No. of Shipments: 1,118 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Mattel Brands (Hong Kong), Keyhinge Toys Vietnam Joint Stock (Vietnam)
Kids still love to play with these toy cars. Suppliers shipped masses of Hot Wheels cars, gift sets, tracks, and other accessories to the U.S. for the holiday shopping season. Global Hot Wheels sales in the third quarter were up 6 percent year-on-year, according to Mattel (MAT).
Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
No. 7 Hot Holiday Import: Legos
Total No. of Shipments: 1,217 Main exporter: Denmark Biggest suppliers: Lego System (Denmark), Lego Manufacturing (Hungary), Lego Production (Czech Republic)
There’s hardly anything more fun for children to do than build a Lego world, using blocks and mini-figures. In the first half of 2011, classic product lines such as Lego City and Lego Star Wars remained top sellers and new sets based on Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter sold better than expected, Legoreported.
Photographer: Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg
No. 6 Hot Holiday Import: Memory foam bedding
Total No. of Shipments: 1,391 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Positec (Macao Commercial Offshore) (Macau), Healthcare (China), Shenzhen Eversince International (China)
A good night’s sleep is worth a lot, and U.S. mattress sales have been up. Tempur-Pedic (TPX), which specializes in memory foam bedding, reported that sales of mattresses, pillows, and other products in North America increased 30 percent year-on-year, to $279.3 million in the third quarter.
No. 5 Hot Holiday Import: Champagne and flutes
Total No. of Shipments: 1,429 Main exporter: France Biggest suppliers: Moët Hennessy (France), Rémy Cointreau (France), Champagne Perrier-Jouët (France)
No holiday party is complete without champagne—and that’s doubly true for New Year’s parties. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (MC:FP) reported that champagne volume sales increased by 3 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2011, to 19.9 million bottles. Rémy Cointreau (RCO:FP)—which remains the sole distributor for Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck after selling its champagne division to EPI this year—reported that demand in the U.S. picked up from April to September.
Photographer: John Lamb/Getty Images
No. 4 Hot Holiday Import: Earrings
Total No. of Shipments: 1,747 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Crimzon Rose Asia (Hong Kong), Yantai Zehong International (China), Yoobin Trading (China)
Jewelry remains a popular personal-gift option, especially earrings, which were the fourth-most-imported holiday item, according to Panjiva. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Monthly Retail Trade Survey show that jewelry store sales were up about 13 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2010.
Photographer: Trinette Reed/Getty Images
No. 3 Hot Holiday Import: Perfume
Total No. of Shipments: 1,794 Main exporter: China Biggest suppliers: Shanghai Sibei Cosmetic (China), Yiwu Meizhiyuan Cosmetics (China)
What better gift than to help your beloved smell the way Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, or other celebrity perfumers would want her or him to smell? Research firm NPD Group estimates that luxury perfume sales in U.S. department stores increased by 10 percent, to $1.7 billion, during the first 10 months of the year.
No. 2 Hot Holiday Import: Headphones
Total No. of Shipments: 2,251 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: Coby Manufacturing (Hong Kong), JWIN International (Hong Kong), Weifang Goertek Electronics (China)
Those dinky iPod ear buds never last, so music lovers constantly need replacements. Says Christi Park, product manager, Coby Electronics: “Although earbuds and earphones continue to be popular with consumers, headphones are red-hot right now. They are larger and more visible and they make a bold fashion statement with color and design that support an individual’s personal style, often conveying status as well.” NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker says expensive headphones in particular are popular now. Unit sales of all headphones in the U.S. in the first 10 months of the year are up more by than 10 percent and dollar sales have jumped by more than 30 percent, according to Baker.
Photographer: Elisa Cicinelli/Getty Images
No. 1 Hot Holiday Import: Barbie dolls and accessories
Total No. of Shipments: 2,598 Main exporter: Hong Kong Biggest suppliers: T.H.I Group (Hong Kong), Mattel Brands (Hong Kong), PT Mattel Indonesia (Indonesia)
Barbie, launched in 1959, remains a best-selling brand for Mattel (MAT). Expect to see lots of Barbie dolls, dollhouses, cars, and accessories this holiday season. At publication time, top Barbie sellers on the Toys R Us website included the Barbie Princess Charm School Barbie Doll Princess Blair, Barbie Glam Vacation House, and the Barbie Glam Convertible.