Commentary by George Anderson
Okay. First Wal-Mart had some stock of Elmo T.M.X. and then it didn’t. But, now it does?
The retailer announced earlier this week that it had come into additional units of the season’s hottest selling toy and would put them up for sale on walmart.com. In fact, the company announced it would sell 4,000 dolls a day for four consecutive days.
Consumers were thrilled to find that there were Elmos left, especially at a price that was not some multiple of the $39.97 Wal-Mart charges. The demand for the dolls has been so great that Wal-Mart’s site experienced at least one outage on Wednesday due to traffic.
Not all of Wal-Mart’s customers have come away happy, as the available Elmos have been swept up quickly leaving many still without the toy for Christmas. Others have questioned if Wal-Mart had been hoarding its supply to dangle in front of shoppers as the days draw closer to Christmas.
The only response Wal-Mart has given to the last question is that it “secured” additional Elmos and is putting them on sale at a much lower price than found on eBay and other places on the internet.
The short supply of Elmos, which were expected to be the hottest selling holiday item when they were launched back in Sept., along with extremely limited supplies of new video game consoles such as Sony’s PS3 system, has consumers seeing conspiracies. To date, however, that doesn’t appear to have soured their mood when it comes to purchasing.
Discussion Questions: Has the lack of availability of some popular items eroded consumer confidence in manufacturers and retailers? Which bears the brunt
of resentment when toys and other popular items are not available for sale leading up to Christmas?