STOCKS of this year's most-sought after Christmas gifts are running out fast.
Popular Christmas presents like tablet computers, e-readers, and in-demand toys like Furbys, Ninja Turtles and Password Journal are flying off the shelves and retailers are already experiencing stock shortages, according to Retail Excellence Ireland (REI).
The retail body is warning consumers not to leave their Yuletide shopping until the last minute as stocks of popular gifts are rapidly dwindling and may not be replenished in time for Christmas.
Some popular electronic items, like iPad Minis, have already run out, while mid-range smartphones are in short supply, as are computer games like 'Call of Duty'.
Products that haven't even hit the shelves yet – including the box set of the first three seasons of the hit gangland drama 'Love/Hate' and period drama 'Downton Abbey' – could also prove elusive due to the popularity of both shows, according to David Fitzsimons, chief executive of REI.
Pre-ordered sales of the 'Love/Hate' box sets – which go on sale next Monday – have already exceeded supply, he said.
And because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, retailers are worried that a lot of people will be postponing their shopping until the weekend before.
However, REI's members have expressed concern that there will not be enough retail staff available to deal with an avalanche of shoppers requiring assistance at the same time, especially those selling electronics, footwear and telecommunications items, he said.
He warned that shoppers who put off their purchases until the final weekend before Christmas "will create a major challenge for retailers who will struggle to serve this level of demand".
Meanwhile, a new survey reveals that close to one in two consumers are doing their homework before buying expensive gifts.
An online study of 3,400 adults found that 48pc are researching the financial viability of a company through online forums, blogs, news articles and consumer reviews before making large purchases.
Almost a quarter of respondents, 22pc, said they would ask the opinion of family and friends about the financial viability of a company before parting with their money.
But the survey conducted by CreditCheck.ie found that 17pc never check a company's fiscal health before making a large purchase.
It claimed 70pc of consumers would use a professional credit check service before making a large purchase, if they knew that such a service existed.
The company's managing director, Christine Cullen, said: "Understandably, consumers want to avoid buying large gifts from companies that might not be there should the item need to be returned.
"But running online background checks is not the most reliable way to avoid making costly decisions.
"To get an accurate fix on a company's financial status, we would encourage consumers to use an affordable risk-assessment service before parting with their money or supplying goods on credit."