Ignore the Hype! Best Time to Buy Toys Is in December

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This post comes from Jeff Somogyi at partner DealNews.

A few weeks ago, the children of the world let out a collective shout of “Awesome!” when this year’s Toys R Us Fabulous 15 list was announced. At the same time, parents looked into their wallets and let out an exasperated, “They cost HOW MUCH!?”

But fear not, penny-wise parents! We are here to hold your hand, smooth your hair, make soothing shushing noises, and tell you that everything will be all right. According to our research, you won’t have to break the bank this holiday season.

We went through our records from last year, and besides finding out that we still have a serious lack of restraint when it comes to our eggnog budget, we turned up some interesting information from last year’s Fabulous 15 list — and by extension, uncovered some price trends for new holiday toys in general.

Bypass Black Friday, collect up to 37 percent in savings

You may be tempted to buy the season’s hottest toys sooner rather than later — maybe even during a Black Friday sale — but don’t. All of the deal data we have on these “Fabulous” toys tell a similar tale: To get the best price, skip Black Friday and focus your toy-hunting efforts on the first two weeks of December. That’s right: Not even Black Friday or Cyber Monday can beat this technique.

Last year, nearly all of the Fab 15 toys that were discounted during Black Friday saw further price cuts in the first two weeks of December. We saw the LEGO Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle set and Lalaloopsy Silly Hair doll each drop 27 percent in price, while the Furby doll fell 26 percent in price. Those are some significant savings that shoppers could only get by skipping the Black Friday deals and waiting a handful of days for December to start.

The same waiting game pays off for those toys that weren’t chosen as the “hottest of the season” by a large corporation. According to our data, run-of-the-mill toys (like general LEGOs, play sets, dollhouses and more) will see additional drops once December rolls around. In fact, when it comes to these non-fabulous toys, shoppers can save up to 37 percent.

The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer ruins everything

Once again, as it has for the past two years, LeapFrog throws a wrench into our data set. Toys R Us’ own LeapPad2 Explorer had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $100, but quickly dropped to $80 by September, where we expected it to stay (following the previous year’s pricing trend). However, the device actually increased in price to $90 in November, then increased again in December (though this latter mention came bundled with a $20 LeapFrog app store gift card).

What this tells us is that you can, once again, expect pricing on the new LeapPad Ultra to be just as screwy and unpredictable this year.

The moral of the story

In the coming weeks, many consumers will be tempted to pull the holiday shopping trigger early. Stores will entice you with savings. Tell them, “Get thee behind me, storefront!” and wait. Then keep waiting, patiently, until December shows up, bringing with it glorious discounts for all.

That said, we realize that for some people, paying slightly more than lowest-of-the-season prices is OK if it means peace of mind during an already stressful time of year. In those special cases where the toy is a make-or-break item for the holidays (e.g., if it’s not there, there will be tantrums), then you may want to pull the trigger at the first sign of a deal.

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  • Jake

    Great article. I’m going to share this with my wife and sister, who like to drag me out of my comfortable house on black Friday to participate in this fiasco.