Steamboat Springs Electronics that show movies and play songs, dolls that talk or dance and apparel with a Bohemian look. Those are just a few of the must-have items this holiday season, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and representatives at the local Wal-Mart.
Mark Meade, store manager of the Steamboat Springs Wal-Mart, listed five toys Tuesday that toy department manager Carol Miller thinks will be popular this season.
1. Tumble Time Tigger -- stuffed Winnie the Pooh character that dances and tumbles
2. Furby --n electronic animal that speaks and "learns" English
3. International CXT -- remote-controlled truck that's 28 inches long and runs on a 19.2-volt battery pack
4. Aquadoodle- drawing pad that uses water instead of ink
5. Dress and Dance Dora -- A ballerina or meringue dancer, depending on her outfit.
"Carol watches merchandise all year long," Meade said about selecting the must-have toys. "She keys on new items coming out. We watch television advertising."
One other popular item Wal-Mart is expecting this holiday season is the Xbox 360, which hit shelves Tuesday morning. Despite a price between $300 and $400, the Steamboat store sold out of its units in six minutes. People began waiting in line Monday night in anticipation of the store's 7 a.m. opening Tuesday.
"We are hoping to get more, but we don't know," Meade said.
Electronics such as the Xbox 360, cell phones with built-in mp3 capabilities or picture-taking features, as well as Apple iPods and their accessories, figure to be popular items this season, said Michael Niemira, chief economist and director of research for the shopping center council.
The new iPod enables a buyer to listen to music, watch videos and display photos, but other iPod models are popular with skiers and riders in Steamboat who listen to music while on lifts or runs.
"What we have seen in the last five, six years is a shift in the composition in holiday spending more toward electronics," Niemira said. "The No. 1 item is still apparel. I guess that's the nature of it, but increasingly so, electronics are continuing to take a bigger share of holiday dollars."
Because of apparel's popularity, the council, a global trade association of the shopping center industry founded in 1957, included a long list of potential popular apparel, accessory and jewelry items in its 2005 Holiday Watch guide. They include:
1. Apparel in green, turquoise, deep blue and black
2. Bohemian or military looks
3. Suede, tweed, herringbone and velvet
4. Wrap-style dresses
5. Round-toe and pointed shoes (with embellishments)
6. Wedge heels
7. Chunky necklaces
8. Sterling silver
9. Black jewelry (diamond, marcacite)
10. Chandelier and drop/linear earrings
11. Oversized watches with big straps
The council surveys mall managers to come up with its must-have lists. Niemira said the council also conducted a consumer survey in September to gauge interest in spending in light of Hurricane Katrina and the related global relief efforts.
"(We asked), 'If you gave money, did that cause you to cut back consumer spending?'" Niemira said. "Overall, a third did cut back. It certainly was a sizable impact. Will it be a problem for the holiday season? Probably not. September was a long time ago."
Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the season. Niemira said 11 percent -- or nearly one out of 10 people the council polled -- said they would be out shopping Friday.
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