Buying toys this season is child's play with new instalment schemes
Some toy shops are offering Christmas Clubs and saving cards to customers, writes Aideen Sheehan
As Christmas nears and Santa gets ready to do his rounds, parents all over Ireland will be digging deep to cope with the festive costs. Irish people spend at least €340m a year in specialised toy stores alone according to the Central Statistics Office and that doesn't include the millions more spent in the toy sections of supermarkets and other retailers.
Spending is well down on its boomtime high, but families still want to go that extra mile to make Christmas the magical time for their kids.
In fact, an eBay survey last year showed that Irish parents are the most generous in Europe, spending an average of €278 on toys and presents for their children.
That's nearly twice as much as the €143 spent by German families and well up on the €188 average in France.
But this generosity isn't easy, so toy stores have responded by offering hardpressed parents the chance to spread the costs over a few months.
Banba Toymaster in Dublin's Mary Street said its Christmas Club was increasingly popular.
This allows parents pay a 25pc deposit on a toy, which is then stored away in the basement and they can pay it off in instalments before collection.
"It means people can spread the cost by paying for toys bit by bit without worrying that it'll be sold out by the time they've paid," said store manager Maurice Doyle.
"We had a Christmas Club years ago, but it stopped in the 1990s when people had that bit more money. But from 2006 on the demand was there again so we restarted it," he said.
Smyths also launched a new Savings Card recently, allowing customers to top up money bit by bit on an in-store card, which they can then use to pay for their purchases.
A spokesman for Smyths, which has 22 outlets in Ireland, said that it only got going in recent weeks, but uptake has been good and they expect a big increase over the next year.
Here are some of the toys retailers said they expect to be bestsellers this Christmas. (Prices quoted are from Smyths unless stated otherwise.)
* Barbie Mariposa Doll €26.99
* Despicable Me 2 20cm Talking Minion Dave €34.99
* Disney Planes Tilt-n-Fly Dusty €41.99
* Doc McStuffins Time for Checkup Doll €39.99
* Furby Boom €59.99
* Innotab 3/LeapPadUltra From €69.99 each
* Lego Friends Dolphin Cruiser €62.99
* Monster High 13 Wishes Dolls €17.99
* Skylanders SWAP Force Starter Pack €64.99
* Sofia the First Talking Sofia €49.99