Hot holiday buys may come online |

Hot holiday buys may come online

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

Despite increasing Internet advertisements and new online gimmicks to entice shoppers, many market analysts predict people will still hit the malls to do their holiday shopping this year.

A study by Dell Computer and Louis Harris & Associates found 43 percent of Americans who use computers say they’re likely to shop via the Internet this holiday season, a 330 percent increase over a year ago, according to The New York Times.

However, the International Council of Shopping Centers, a nonprofit trade association of the shopping center industry, predicts Internet holiday sales will make up less than 1 percent of the $173 billion forecasted for overall sales.

South Shore resident Melanie Norman said she is not part of that small percentage of Web-crawling shoppers.

“The only thing I shop for on the Internet is with,” Norman said. “I like to see it before I buy it.”

Norman said she typically goes off the hill to do her holiday shopping, but can find occasional gifts locally.

“I always go to Sacramento, but there are some local places where I can get things for some of my girlfriends, like bath and body stuff,” she said. “Yolanda Ortega has some adorable things at her store, Tahoe Treasures. There is something there for everyone.”

Online companies like America Online, and offer incentives to keep the shoppers buying in the land of e-commerce. matches people’s characteristics to a list of gifts to make it easier for the giver, and other sites offer live chats with customer service representatives, and offer free or discounted delivery.

Shaun Michael, one of the owners of Toy Maniacs, 2180 Lake Tahoe Blvd., said his store offers free Christmas wrapping and layaway to stay competitive with online vendors.

Michael said finger bikes, skateboards, motorcycles and snowboards, made by Tech Deck and Spin Master Toys, are really popular with 5-year-old Tahoe kids up through teen-agers.

Michael said Power Puff Girl dolls, based on a television comedy cartoon and made by Applause, are also a hot item with little girls.

But Michael said without a doubt scooters will be the most requested item on South Shore youth’s holiday wish lists this year.

“We go through tons of scooters, the 2000 and the 2000X,” Michael said. “The skateboards have slowed down because of it.”

Michael said scooters cost between $59 and $110 depending on the model and are popular with young and old alike.

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