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Barbie, video games year’s hot items

Retailers don’t predict a single toy will captivate the marketthis year, but they do expect strong sales among a wide selectionof items for holiday gift-giving.

The National Retail Federation’s 2004 Holiday ConsumerIntentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found thatBarbie will be the most popular toy purchased for girls, whilevideo games will be the most sought-after item for boys.

More than 7,300 consumers were polled on what “hot toy” theyplanned to purchase for children.

For young girls, Barbie merchandise was the top toy with 21.7percent of those polled saying they planned to buy, though manyparents, 16.5 percent, will be seeking Bratz dolls. Third on thelist was dolls made by other manufacturers. Video games, Leap Frog,Dora the Explorer, Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids merchandiserounded out the list.

Also popular among girls this year will be arts and crafts kitsand supplies, the survey found.

That comes as no surprise to Jean Tolbert, owner of Jean’s Artsand Crafts in Brookhaven. She said arts and crafts make wonderfulChristmas presents because they are a gift that encouragesintelligence, creativity and future gift-giving.

“It brings out the creativity in them,” she said. “It’s a wayfor them to express themselves.”

Most popular among young girls, she said, are cross stitching,painting and beading. But she said crafts of any type makeexcellent presents because they teach a skill and give parents anopportunity to bond with their children. Time spent crafting iswonderful family time, she said.

“People just find so many different things to do. There’ssomething for everyone in crafting,” she said.

For boys this holiday season, video games captured the top spotamong those polled as the hot item with 19.9 percent of parentsplanning to purchase one. Video games were followed by Spider-Manmerchandise and remote-controlled toys as the top toys forboys.

Remote-controlled toys are always popular, said Susan Harvey,owner of Brookhaven’s Radio Shack.

“They consistently stay in the top five every year,” she said.”They’re popular each and every year.”

The most requested electronics item among teens this year is aportable DVD player that can be used in vehicles, Harvey said,adding it was a new item and that helps its appeal among the youngcrowd.

Other electronics that remain popular from year to year includeDVD recorders and air humidifiers, Harvey said.

Toys aside, the National Retail Federation survey revealedclothing and accessories and entertainment items like books, CDsand DVDs are likely to be the top grossing items this year, withnearly 60 percent of those polled intending to purchase at leastone gift among those items.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association,representing more than 1.4 million U.S. retail establishments.