Morning Call

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post for some important breaking news: Retailers’ profit margins for the holiday shopping season are now seen as coming in better than expected. This comes as a surprise to many on the Street who were expecting all peddlers of plastics and playthings to limp through December like a three-legged My Pretty Pony. But this morning’s Littlest Pet Shop Indicator changed all that.

The closely watched Littlest Pet Shop Indicator has served as a barometer for consumers’ shopping habits since….well, since this morning. But that’s not the point, the point is that the LPS Indicator started flashing green at about 7 a.m., effectively changing the tenor of trading overseas.

Indeed, the LPS Indicator is confirming that retailers are keeping inventories lean–so lean in fact that the remaining stock on their shelves is selling at premium prices. With nearly two weeks left before Christmas, that means that what toys are left and available for purchase are getting pricier by the day.

One woman in New York City told this reporter that she wanted to purchase the Littlest Pet Shop Tail Waggin Fitness Club Playset for her niece. This item, which normally sells in the $30-$40 range, cannot be found on store shelves anywhere–brick and mortar or virtual. Sure, there’s the Daycare Playset available for purchase, but it’s blue and her niece doesn’t like blue. Not only that, but the Daycare Playset only has one level. What fun is that? One level to “walk” your littlest pet shop pets around? C’mon, Hasbro, that’s not fun. Two levels is fun! Two levels of glorious molded two-tone pink plastic–nothing’s more fun that that! But get this, everyone is sold out of the Waggin Fitness Club. Wait, Amazon.com beckons, come here, look…I’ll sell you the Waggin Fitness Club for $80. Eighty freekin’ dollars?! The New York City woman cannot believe it. Buy within the next 10 minutes and guarantee delivery by Dec. 24, Amazon coos. The New York City woman refuses, positively refuses to pay double for this toy. Forget it! There are only two left. Your niece loves pink, Amazon helpfully reminds. Do you really want to show up without a gift? On Christmas? For your three-year-old princess niece? UNPRINTABLE WORD UNPRINTABLE WORD UNPRINTABLE WORD!!!!!

Sorry, this reporter got caught up in her man-on-the-street interview.

The LPS Indicator is heralded as a better predictor of consumer behavior than the Lipstick Indicator, the Underwear Index or even the Hemline Length Indicator, and Wall Street is abuzz with the LPS’s latest reading. Jim Cramer screamed about it. Maria Bartiromo stated the obvious about it. And a nameless, unidentifiable Bloomberg reporter interviewed three experts about the LPS, its history and ramifications…effectively draining any interest viewers had in said Indicator.

With only one-half hour before the market’s open, expect retailers to trade higher and this season to be the one that gives “pay to play” new meaning.

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