Sold Out Already? Holiday Season’s Early Hot Sellers

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Game consoles and tablets have been flying off the shelves. So have guns.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of shoppers purchased clothes over Black Friday weekend. Clothing was the most popular item named in a National Retail Federation survey, with 58% of consumers indicating that they bought clothes and/or accessories in recent days. According to data from IBIS World, clothing will be the season’s largest gift category, as it usually is.

Here are three other categories of purchases that have been particularly hot lately:

Game Consoles
Nintendo sold more than 400,000 Wii U consoles during the first week the item entered the marketplace, leading company executives to say the product is “effectively sold out at retail.” Some stores, including Toys R Us, do say that they have Wii U consoles available at physical locations and online. There is also a robust resales market for the consoles at eBay, where shoppers are bidding $50 or more (sometimes much more) over the list price in auctions. And yet, while Wii U sales have been impressive, they pale in comparison to Microsoft‘s Xbox 360: Over 750,000 of the devices were sold over Black Friday weekend.

(MORE: Tech Buyers’ Guide 2012)

Tablets & E-readers
A special Cyber Monday deal on the Amazon Kindle Fire — $129, down from the usual $159— led to record-breaking sales for the unit. Virtually every retailer has been offering promotions on tablets, ranging from Apple (free engraving on iPads, curiously enough) to sub-$100 “doorbuster” type prices on the most basic 7-inch tablets at Best Buy, Walmart, and other stores. New tablets including the iPad Mini, the Google Nexus 7, and the Microsoft Surface have also drawn the attention of shoppers. All of these factors provide context for Parks Associates research, which indicates that this holiday season marks the first time ever that more households are planning to buy a tablet than a laptop.

The FBI conducted a record number of background checks for potential gun purchases on Black Friday—around 155,000, up from the previous high on Black Friday 2011 (129,000), according to USA Today. In Colorado, where the notorious “Dark Knight Rises” shootings took place over the summer, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation performed around 4,000 checks on Black Friday, up from last year’s record high of 3,031. The CBI has come to expect a huge influx of gun-buying consumers during Thanksgiving weekend:

“We plan for months leading up to this,” CBI spokesperson Susan Medina said. “There’s no vacation. We stagger our starts. We have everybody here so that we maximize efficiency so that we make this process go as quickly as possible.”

(MORE: Election’s Over. Time to Buy a Gun!)

Meanwhile, thousands of shoppers lined up at Cabela’s superstores around the country on Black Friday, many of them drawn by the possibility of free guns, gift certificates, and other giveaways. Here’s what one woman had to say at a Cabela’s in Connecticut, via the Hartford Courant:

“I was sleeping; I was dreaming of guns,” said Gloria Fort of Newington, who was second in line, having arrived at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day for a 5 a.m. opening Friday. She was huddled under blankets, tucked into a camouflage, hooded coat and seated in a chair behind just one other person.

She didn’t come home with a free gun; instead, a 47-year-old man who was a couple hundred people in line behind her wound up winning an $800 bolt-action Browning rifle. Hundreds of the consumers waiting in line for the store’s opening were given gift cards, many worth a mere $5.