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Buy toys now, but keep procrastinating on the electronics

According to The Consumerist, if you’re shopping for Christmas (or Hanukah or Kwanzaa or any other giving occasion) gifts right now, this is a good time to buy toys but not necessarily electronics. The logic makes sense.

With toys, there’s a lead time of several months on orders. Retailers had to make their best guess back in the spring about what was going to be hot this year, and sometimes they’re wrong. If they underestimate demand, those toys could be in short supply. Of course there’ll be something on sale every week for the next four weeks, but chances are the stuff my preschooler really wants won’t get any cheaper from here on out. More likely, prices on popular toys will stay steady or go up as Christmas grows closer.

Electronics are a different story. I was in the hunt about a year ago for an LCD TV, and every time I thought I’d waited a week too long, along came another surprise. I took notice when the cost of 32″ LCDs dropped below $400 sometime in October, and finally bought one when supplies on brand-name 32″ LCDs started to look like they were thinning. I can’t remember if I paid $330 or $350 for a mid-range Panasonic model. I may have been able to save $10 or $20 more by waiting another week or so, but as it turned out, I did pretty well buying when I did. I got a good price and there was still enough selection that I could get a model that didn’t have too many compromises. Yes, it was a 720p model, but 1080p is pretty much wasted on a 32-inch model anyway. And I didn’t have to settle for a model that had too few DVI ports.

If you have any doubts about where pricing sits on any given item, you can use The Camelizer to view historical price trends. Prices may not do exactly what they did last year, but overall trends are usually fairly consistent from year to year.

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