For the first time ever, the most popular Christmas gift in 2006 will be gift cards, according to research by American Express. In 2005, 57% of American shoppers purchased a gift card to give as a Christmas gift. In 2006, American Express predicts that number will reach 66% of American shoppers!
It may be easy to see why the gift card is the most popular christmas gift. A gift card is much more likely to be accepted by the recipient of the gift, and it relieves the stress from the gift purchaser who may not know exactly what the recipient would want. Gift cards also make post-holiday sales more valuable, as the same gift bought with a gift card will often be cheaper right after Christmas than if it was purchased at pre-Christmas retail prices.
In terms of specific items expected to be the most popular Christmas gifts in 2006, Elmo TMX and Sony’s PlayStation 3 top the list as the most sought after and hardest to find gifts. Elmo T.M.X. (Tickle Me eXtreme) is an animatronic successor to 1996’s hottest and most popular Christmas present, the Tickle Me Elmo. The toy requires six AA batteries, which are actually included with the toy. Elmo TMX hit store shelves September 19, 2006 and quickly sold out, with auctions selling them shortly thereafter for up to $1,000. The price of Tickle Me Elmo TMX was originally supposed to be a suggested retail price of $39.99, but is now selling for many times that at various retailers and auctions.
Sony’s Playstation 3 was released on November 17, 2006 in the USA leaving very little time for Christmas shoppers to get their hands on one. A 20GB model retails for $900 while a 60GB model retails for $1000. There was such an incredible demand for PlayStation 3 on its release date that a string of related violence occurred during the week following its release. The media reported on robbery after robbery, shootings, and stabbings across the country while prices on eBay skyrocketed to as high as $2,000. If you have yet to purchase the popular gift yourself, and you plan on doing so this season, you were wise to wait. There is no shortage of PS3’s on the market and you can buy them at the suggested retail price online or by auction for possibly even less.