Toys run out: is this an accident?

Christmas shoppingPA

This weekend hundreds of thousands of people will be putting their feet up, signing very deeply, and swearing they will never leave their Christmas shopping this late again.

It not just the stress and the crowds. If you were hunting for toys, there's every chance that you found the most important present on your list was sold out. And there's a very good reason why the toy sellers want it this way.

Sold out

If you go down to any toy shop, or visit any retailer online, you will be met with an array of items which are sold out.

Try the Argos half price toy sale, for example, and around one in three of the offers are no longer available for delivery. Likewise, search Toys R Us for Transformers Bumblebee toys and you will be met with more than 25 products - more than half of which are sold out. That's not to say that these retailers are worse than any others - these are just examples.

What's going on?

And while you may be tearing your hair out wondering how toy shops could have overlooked the fact that perhaps at Christmas people may want to buy toys, there are two reasons why it may be happening.

The first reason is the fact that we are in tough economic times. No-one wants to overstock their shelves and be forced to flog it all on Boxing Day for a knock-down price. The retailers have followed sound economic practice and erred on the side of caution. Ask any retailer and they'll tell you that this is exactly what is happening.

The other reason

However, behind closed doors, some people are claiming there's another reason entirely.
What did you do when you realised the toys were sold out? You went out and bought something else. You had promised your child a specific character but when the shop didn't have one, you bought a second choice - because children need something to open on Christmas Day.

However, at the same time, both you and the retailer know that you have promised your child the specific toy. After Christmas, when the stock is all back in, you will be forced to go back and buy the thing your child really wanted.

So you've bought twice as much as you originally intended. It's tempting to wonder whether this is entirely an accident on the part of the retailers.

But what do you think? Were you in luck this year, or have you fallen foul of the under-stocking phenomenon? Let us know in the comments.
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