All I want for Christmas is a cheap plastic toy.
It's only 55 sleeps to Christmas and it appears popular presents are cheap presents as families continue to feel the pinch of the global credit crisis.
The Warehouse's top toy again for this year is a $24.99 Zhu Zhu Hamster, squeaky toy hamsters that zoom around on wheels.
Other toys in the Warehouse's top five are less than $15: Mighty Beanz 6 pk ($8.99), Beyblades ($13.99), Lego (from $4.99) and Zoobles ($12.99).
Beyblades is a new generation spinning top and Lego is a world-wide classic.
Toys R Us' list includes Blip Toys' Squinkies, tiny figures that fit inside a toy vending machine; Mattel's Sing-a-ma-jigs, colourful plush dolls that harmonise; and Pillow Pets - stuffed animals that become pillows.
Toyworld general manager Franco Godinich said "cool, different, cute and collectible" toys were likely to top kids' wishlists this Christmas.
"Collectibles are priced as low as $4.99 and the popular ranges have items at many different price points so there are toys for all budgets," she said.
Traditionally, Christmas shopping starts in October but goes off in earnest in December.
New Zealand Retail Association spokesman Barry Hellberg said retailers began the Christmas build-up from October 1.
"I expect Christmas to be a modest one for New Zealanders. Retailers have felt the effects of recession over the last year or two. People are thinking twice about extending their credit lines," he said.
Latest figures from Statistics New Zealand showed retail sales were up only 2 per cent in August, compared to August last year.
"The retail market is still subdued and the trend will continue up to Christmas and into the new year," Hellberg said.
Kiwis spent $2.8 billion in 55.7 million Eftpos transactions between December 1 and 21 last year.
That was up 6.2 per cent on the $2.7 billion spent in the same period the year before.
Smith & Caughey merchandising manager Sue Millar said sales were up on last year at the Christmas shop, which sells decorations, trees and festive toys.
Kidswear and toy buyer Stephanie Shailer said the store was themeing its Christmas toy range around the outdoors, selling more traditional and "doing" toys over new fads.
"Apple products like the iPod, iPad and iPhone are a huge trend. I have children so I can attest to that," she said.
However, the department store was selling a large range of water and sand-play toys.
Top toys over the years
2010: Zhu Zhu Hamsters
2009: Ben 10: Alien Chamber
2008: The High School Musical Dance Mat
2007: Nintendo Wii
2006: Dr Who Cyberman Mask
2001: Lego Bionicle
2000: Teksta a robotic dog
1996: Buzz Lightyear
1990: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
1985: Transformers: Optimus Prime
1984: Care Bears
Do you have a consumer story to tell? Phone (09) 373-9341 or email email@example.com