Toys: No Must-Haves This Holiday Season

Retailers are trying to create excitement in the absence of a coveted plaything like Tickle Me Elmo or Nintendo's Wii

Christmas shopping typically begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and nearly every year certain "must-have" toys emerge that spur parents to camp outside stores and then, at the crack of dawn, to stampede inside for a chance to snag the coveted plaything for the Christmas tree. Think Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo, and Nintendo's Wii. This year, as many consumers watch their homes and 401(k) accounts shrink dramatically in value, the must-have toy may go the way of the dodo, say analysts such as Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consultancy Davidowitz & Associates. "The customer is so pressed for money, so scared, and so in debt," he says. "They are so focused on price that the huge must-have toys are gone."

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