I knew this was coming.
The word in Retail is that Walmart, Target, ToysRus, eBay and Amazon are all going to be fighting like the dickens to 'win the sale' this upcoming Christmas, and that means HUGE price cutting on toys. (This article provides more info, and yes I realize the article is about the U.K. market).
Anyway, the #1 strategy for many major retailers will be 'price matching' (because many of them don't know how to compete via anything else except price). That means all the competing retailers are going to race to the bottom, trying to outdo each other with discounts, for a lot of merchandise.
I LOVE it when they do that because the purchase prices end up being artificially low (=WAY below retail). When things 'normalize' (they always do), the prices go back up.
When you combine that rise of prices WITH 'what's in demand' (more on that in a minute), you can make some very big profits during the 2 to 3 weeks leading up to Xmas '13 (yeah I know this sounds too early but hey, this is retail).
How can you profit?
First: Start now buy buying 'name brand' and 'major character' toys that are priced at least 70% below retail. That means clearance-priced: Barbie, Disney (Cars, Planes, Princess, Fairies, Mickey Mouse, Pirates of the Carribbean), Marvel (Spiderman, Captain America, Avengers, etc.), DC (Batman, Superman, etc.), Fisher Price (Imaginext, etc.), Lego, Little Tikes, Vtech, Step2, Nerf. You can find these on clearance shelves/clearance-marked aisles at major stores (Target, Walmart, etc.), as well as online (ToysRus.com, Target.com, eBay.com, etc., and/or via a FindSpotter VIP membership
Also: Buy used toys of the aforementioned character/brand themes, for even lower prices. Check your local craigslist and also inquire with your friends on Facebook to see if they want to unload any unwanted (but complete and clean) toys. Yes, you can sell used games/toys on Amazon, as long as they're clean, working as intended, and 100% complete (with or without original instructions, with or without original exterior packaging).
Then: Program yourself to avoid the 'fads'. Many of us got lucky with the Zhu Zhu pets a few years ago, but that was a gamble and a shortage of production boosted the prices. Don't gamble, most gamblers will lose. So don't try to predict any of the fads.
Right before the holiday shopping season: Look for retailers to cut prices on the newly-released aforementioned character/brand toys, as they try to get a jump start on sales. Buy those toys when they are priced at least 60% below retail, and get ready to re-sell them on eBay/Amazon (see the next paragraph).
During the holiday shopping season: Price your stuff at 4x what you paid for it, or at least full retail price (whichever is greater). As prices normalize/demand picks up in the 2 to 4 weeks leading up to Xmas, buyers become less and less price-sensitive (meaning they're more apt to pay full retail - or higher - to get those major-brand major-character toys I mentioned earlier.)
Stay tuned to this blog (subscribe via the form on the right hand side) and as we lead up to Christmas, I'll be giving you more free tips and info.