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Holiday shopping begins early in Farragut, West Knox

Researchers estimate holiday sales will reach nearly $220 billion nationwide this season, an increase of more than 4 percent from last year.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 40 percent of holiday shoppers will be buying toys.

“Retailers have been keeping tight reins on their inventory levels this year, and the hottest toys are always first off the shelves,” said NRF’s President and CEO Tracy Mullin.

The NRF pinpointed what toys are most requested this season. Barbie merchandise barely beat out Bratz while Disney/princess related products and stuffed animals came in last on the list at numbers 17 and 18, respectively.

Boys want video games, Spiderman merchandise and remote control toys. Bicycles, Thomas the Train and Legos also made the list. Retro toys re-introduced to today’s youth are popular with both genders and include GI Joe, Star Wars, Transformers, Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony.

Wish lists in Kathy Alexander’s fourth grade class at A.L. Lotts were varied but somewhat true to the trends. Meghan Ward hopes to find a Gameboy SP and Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies under the tree. Andrew LaPlaunt wants a new bicycle or mini chopper.

Alyssa Bragg has redecorating in mind. She asked her parents for money to buy a new bedspread. She would also like a Juicebox, not for quenching thirst but for portable entertainment. It’s a handheld, personal media player for watching movies and television on the go.

Henry DeGroot likes to play video games and would like some new ones for his Gameboy and Game Cube.

Caitie Borek is hoping for an Easy Bake Oven and classmate Olivia Monroe said she wants “either a fish, a dog or a new stereo.”

Concord resident and mother Beverly Chaveriat said she’d like to unwrap Christmas gifts that will make her life easier. “Cleaning products like a steam cleaner,” she said.

Gift cards are also a hot item for gift givers and receivers. The NRF predicts that the average consumer will spend $80.45 on gift cards, 11.5 percent of their holiday budget. Retailers are getting creative with card designs and packaging and are offering cards in visible, convenient locations — often by cash registers.

Research firm eMarketer estimates U.S. consumers will spend $16.7 billion shopping online this season. Online retailers are counting on it. Fourth quarter sales account for nearly one-third of Web retailers’ total annual revenues. Ranking in popularity for online holiday sales, according to JupiterResearch, are books, clothing, shoes, music, toys, video games and bed and bath items. Shoppers also look to the Web to research gift ideas. Respondents cited finding better prices as the main reason.

Andrew Jackson said he’d like to try online shopping this holiday season but “that would require planning.” Jackson laughed at the notion of joining crowds of shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving, the day that’s commonly known as “Black Friday” in the retail industry as the official kick-off to holiday season and the busiest of the year.

“I like to go out there and see and touch what’s out there usually the day before Christmas,” he said.

Dwayne and Robyn Hammock have already started their Christmas shopping, recently looking for bargains in Pigeon Forge. Returning to their home in Madisonville, the couple made a stop at the Turkey Creek Wal-Mart in search of a bike, not for a family member but for a boy they’ve never met.

The Hammocks and fellow church members are sharing the joy and responsibility of buying gifts for an “adopted family.”

Picking out the brand new 10-speed, Dwayne said he hadn’t even considered what he wants for Christmas. Giving his wife a hug, he shared, “I already got what I want.”


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