Santa can be swayed with hot chocolates and cookies, but toy retailers may find it's a little tougher to get in parents' good graces this year. So they're heating up the competition.
The outlook for the holiday season has been lackluster, with the National Retail Federation expecting shoppers to trim their budgets for gifts and other purchases by 2 percent, to an average $737.95. Toys are no exception.
Half of consumers plan to purchase toys as holiday gifts this year, down slightly from 52 percent in 2012, according to a Harris Poll survey of 2,638 adults conducted in October. And while 20 percent expect to spend more on toys than last year, another 32 percent said they'll spend less.
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"It's been a pretty weak toy year," said Gerrick Johnson, a toy industry analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Consumers' reluctance to spend has influenced toy manufacturers to play it safe, which means fewer toys that generate excitement. "They're a little more cautious about what they develop and bring to market," he said.