Image: Barbie Mattel
Mark Lennihan  /  AP
‘Computer Engineer Barbie’ is among the toys that Wal-Mart is discounting ahead of the holiday season in an effort to attract toy shoppers to its stores.
updated 10/12/2010 1:50:18 PM ET 2010-10-12T17:50:18

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday it is discounting an array of toys, from a Nerf foam dart gun to Barbie, well ahead of the holiday season, in an effort to attract toy shoppers to its stores.

Wal-Mart did not say how many toys it is discounting, but Laura Phillips, senior vice president of toys and seasonal merchandising, said in a statement the company conducted focus groups throughout the year to ensure that the company has the right toys in stock and offered at discounts.

The early, aggressive discounts are an opening gambit in what's expected to be a positive selling season for toys. Spending on toys is expected to rise 2 percent this year after declining 1 percent to $21.47 billion last year, according to The NPD Group, which does market research.

Some examples of toys Wal-Mart is offering at a discount, effective immediately:

— Mattel's Barbie Potty Training Pups, which includes a doll with puppies, for $10 from $17.97.

— Hasbro's Tonka Light and Sound Truck, for $10 from $14.97.

— Hasbro's Monopoly board game, for $10 from $12.

— Hasbro's Nerf N-Strike Stampede foam dart gun, for $44 from $49.97.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., isn't alone in readying for a competitive toy market this holiday season.

Story: Sam’s Club to sell Apple’s iPad, iPhone

Target Corp., based in Minneapolis, has said it will offer 2,000 toys this holiday season and discount half of them via a weekly ad and other promotions such as a free-shipping offer beginning near Thanksgiving. The cheap-chic retailer also has spruced up its toy displays.

Toys R Us, based in Wayne, N.J., is opening 600 temporary stores for the holidays in malls and other locations to capture toy dollars.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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