Tips to find the hottest Christmas gifts

December 21, 2009 7:01:55 AM PST
With less than a week left until Christmas, the mad dash is on. As shoppers crowd stores and Web sites looking for the best deals -- there is a resource that could be the key to finding the hottest items by tracking real time store inventory.

Are you still searching for that perfect electronic gadget? Or perhaps a popular toy for the kids? Maybe you're frazzled you haven't been able to snag one of those super-hot Zhu Zhu hamster pet toys that are selling in limited quantities, and flying-off-the shelves. During this last stretch of the holiday shopping frenzy, retail analysts advise not to hold out too long purchasing those desired gifts.

"There's definitely a concern about inventories being low this year, so if you see something and it's what you want and it's there, you should order it and get it right away," said Joe Davis of CoreMetrics.

San Mateo based CoreMetrics helps market retailers and track consumers' shopping habits. Davis says while there's been a slight upswing in consumer spending nationwide compared to last year, retailers have been extra-cautious stocking their holiday inventories.

"The purchase decisions are made back in April, and in the midst of that we were in a huge recession, and so a lot of them I think were very cautious about buying. And the last thing they wanted was to have a lot of excess inventory, which is what happened last holiday season," said Davis.

So how about a little help scoring that prized gift item? Milo.com can assist. No not Milo the real dog, but the Web site named after him.

"The great thing about Milo is it offers the best of both worlds," said Jack Abraham of Milo.com.

Jack Abraham launched this real-time inventory search site, out of personal frustration not finding products he was shopping for in the past. The Palo Alto start-up draws about one-million monthly users and helps them research a product online to then buy it offline, at a local store.

"So we'll actually search the inventory systems of stores near you in real-time and we'll say, here's what's on the shelf right now, five minutes away from where you live. So you can actually go and touch and feel the product, see it, play with it, try it on before you buy it and ultimately buy today," said Abraham.

For example, one hot gift this season for kids is the 'Rockband-2 Wireless Guitar.' ABC7 checked it out on Milo.com, read product details and reviews, found where it was in-stock at a store nearby and then confirmed it was there on the shelf.

"You don't have to be doing all that work of calling store-to-store, or driving around town to find out the same information," said Abraham.


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