Expect Christmas toys to be safe, but hard to find

This Christmas season might be one of the safest times to buy toys for children, but it also could be one of the most frustrating for shoppers hunting for the hottest releases.

After several toy recalls this summer, manufacturers and retailers are stepping up inspections in their stores, plants and warehouses.

Though that’s good for the safety of the U.S. toy supply, the timing is awful for toy retailers, most of which already have placed their holiday orders. Many are awaiting shipments.

There are 3 billion toys sold each year in the United States, and many toy retailers ring up at least a quarter of their annual sales in November and December.

But with 80 percent of the toys sold in this country originating in China, the scope of the shifts in safety standards has ramifications for this holiday season and even into next year.

In the short-term, toy stores this year might see inventory shortages, and the resulting slump in sales could also lead to higher toy prices and a decrease in seasonal hiring.

In the long-term, the ripple effect of this summer’s recalls are expected to reach far into 2008, with rising toy prices and the possible expansion of the new testing standards to other products.

“Vendors are putting a lot of pressure on their manufacturing plants in China to get it right,” said Jim Silver, editor of the industry magazine Toy Wishes. “The whole process is going to get slower.”

The recalls that started it all were a trio of announcements over a five-week period from toy giant Mattel. Consumers learned that toys bearing some of this country’s most beloved brands, including Barbie and Sesame Street, were among the recalled products.

Retailers are trying to address the recalls and reassure worried shoppers that toys are safe.

Wal-Mart introduced new safety guidelines that include 200 additional tests each day on toys likely to end up in children’s mouths. Toys “R” Us launched a Web site for product safety and recall information. KB Toys stepped up its inspections of incoming shipments and toys already on store shelves.

Many analysts are predicting toy shortages during the holiday shopping season as replenishment shipments are delayed for testing.

“Most Christmases, you’ll get situations where all these items sold out Dec. 10, and they say they’ll be in in three or four days,” said Silver, the Toy Wishes editor. “In a lot of cases, it’s not going to happen.”

Silver said parents should not delay in grabbing must-have items.

“You won’t see an effect before Thanksgiving, but this is really a year to shop early for key items,” he said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Lake Stevens resident Rick Trout shows a Feb. 2020 photo of the rising lake level in front of his home after a storm. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
Some Lake Stevens homeowners now must buy flood insurance

Updated FEMA maps show some lakeside homes now sit in a designated flood hazard area, due to a warming climate.

Voyager Middle School.
Shooting threat at Mukilteo schools was a joke, student says

Four threats of violence in 48 hours were reported at Snohomish County schools in the wake of a shooting at a Michigan high school.

Girl, 1, dies from gunshot wound near Granite Falls

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputies were investigating the weapons assault report Saturday night.

Prosecuting attorney, Taryn Jones gives the state's opening statement to start the trial of Ryan Leenders for first-degree murder Friday morning at the Snohomish County Superior Courthouse on December 3, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Trial opens for Everett man charged with killing party guest

A defense attorney claimed Ryan Leenders mistook a vape pen for a gun when he shot William Harper, who was not armed.

‘Prolonged neglect’: Darrington woman charged with starving horses

After a months-long investigation, the woman is accused of neglecting her animals.

State officials confirm first 3 cases of omicron variant

The cases were found in Thurston, Pierce and King counties, according to the state Department of Health.

Preston "Buddy" Dwoskin served as the head referee at the inaugural Buddy Bowl football game two years ago at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Contributed photo) 20211203
Anti-bullying ‘Buddy Bowl’ game set for Saturday in Marysville

Preston Dwoskin, a public speaker with special needs, organized the football festivities. He would like you to be there.

Police: Student, 13, falsely accused classmate of making threat

The student alleged the classmate called to say there would be a shooting at Hidden River Middle School.

Man dies in 140-foot fall from Arlington cellphone tower

The man, in his 30s, fell about just after 1:30 p.m. Saturday while working.

Most Read