NEW YORK — Amazon.com has cheaper online prices for toys than Walmart, Target and other major chains as parents begin shopping for the holidays, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis.
In a comparison of 125 randomly selected toys conducted Nov. 8, Amazon had lower prices than Walmart on 44 percent of the items, while Walmart had the advantage on 13 percent. The remainder had the same price. Walmart beat Target, Kmart and Toys "R" Us on more than 80 percent of the toys, according to a report led by Poonam Goyal, a Bloomberg Industries analyst.
"Toys are important because they are the top category for the holiday, along with electronics, and are the most competitive," Goyal said.
Amazon's lead came as a surprise because Walmart led in last year's pricing study for much of the holiday season, Goyal said.
Amazon had the advantage on such items as the limited-edition version of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a video game for the PlayStation 3 that it priced at $20.98, compared with $39.96 at Walmart.
Another key is how well stocked retailers will be during the holiday shopping season, Goyal said. The largest toy sellers have better inventory levels than they did a year ago, according to the study.
Amazon, Kmart and Toys "R" Us didn't have any toys out of stock online, while Walmart was missing 3 percent and Target didn't have 8 percent. In the same week a year ago, all of these chains had higher levels.
With the exception of Amazon, out-of-stock levels increased last year as the holiday season neared its end.