Financial Tips to Help Shoppers Prepare for a Potential Holiday Toy Shortage

Having just celebrated the unofficial end of summer last weekend, planning for the holidays probably isn’t top of mind for many of us. But if you have little ones on your shopping list to purchase toys for later this year, you may want to expedite your plans and take advantage of deals when you find them. According to reports in Fortune Magazine and Forbes, a potential toy shortage could drive up prices during the holidays.

Why Are Prices Going Up?

It seems like the price of just about everything is more expensive than it was year ago. One cost that has significantly increased is the price of shipping containers. Most toys are manufactured in factories overseas. During the summer, toy companies start shipping their holiday toys to retailers. But according to The Toy Association, prices for shipping containers have increased by as much as 500%! To put that in dollar terms, toymakers are being charged $20,000-$25,000 for shipping containers that last year would have cost them $3,000-$4,000. These costs are undoubtedly going to be passed along to consumers! That’s not good news for anyone’s wallet.

Consumers also need to factor in the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Toymakers and other manufacturers are still recovering from COVID-19 shutdowns, which delayed bringing some popular products to market. All this means inventory will be low, prices will be high, and hot toys will sell out fast and won’t be heavily discounted.

Preparing for the Season

What can consumers do now to plan and shop for toys without breaking the bank? They can follow these tips:

  • Shop early! A good deal for a toy on your wish list might already exist, or it might be discounted during a holiday weekend sale (think Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Thanksgiving). Items also will become harder to find on both store shelves and online the closer you get to the holidays.
  • Develop a holiday budget for your family and create a list of toys you want to purchase. Determine which items you can afford to buy and take off anything that you can’t. Holiday shopping is not worth going into debt!
    • Mobile gift tracking apps that help shoppers stay organized and on budget might be worth downloading.
  • When making purchases, use cards that offer rewards like cash back or travel points to maximize your purchase power.
  • Consider shopping at retailers that offer layaway programs. This allows you to pay over time for your items and often interest-free.
  • In this market, it pays to comparison shop, but you need to act fast! While you want to make sure you are getting the best deal possible, taking too much time reviewing every retailer’s website or storefront might mean you’ll miss out on securing an item at a price you want to pay.
  • Lastly, children love toys, but consider an investment in a college fund or savings account instead of an overpriced item. Not only will your dollar go further, but the recipient will get more value from it in the long run!