American Christmas lists aren't topped by iPods, Blu-rays or even Wiis this year, but by Chunk, PipSqueak, Mr Squiggles and Num Nums. Zhu Zhu pets, robotic hamsters that start at pocket-money prices, reflect a trend that's worrying retailers here: American's growing disillusionment with high-priced, feature-packed gadgets in favour of cheap, cheerful toys.
The cybernetic rodents are all but sold out across the country, with panicking parents queuing for hours at traditional 'Black Friday' sales to secure the $10 (£6) creatures.
The US National Retail Federation is estimating that seasonal
sales would be even worse than last Christmas, although it still predicts shoppers to spend nearly half a trillion dollars over the
Gadget bargains this year include Blu-ray players at $78 (£47), Windows 7 laptops at $197 ($120) and a TomTom sat nav for $59 (£36). Rumoured big Apple price cuts did not materialise - a mere $100 off MacBook Pro and iMacs seemed unlikely to swamp stores.