Toys R Us may be on to something, because the toy chain's customers often say that their children come first.
"I have to say that when it comes to your children, that's where you indulge. That's what I'm finding right now," said Ana Caban. "I mean, I just bought diapers, which is kind of a necessity, but if I were to buy anything else it'd probably be for my son before it's for myself."
But for everyone else in the family, themselves included, there will be a budget as consumers continue to worry about job security and the falling value of their home.
Even recent gains on Wall Street aren't convincing enough of an economic recovery.
"Unless a consumer has security in their financial future, they're going to be likely to spend," said Scott Krugman of the National Retail Federation.
Last year, consumers rushed to take advantage of sales but the momentum didn't last. This year it will likely be the same as retailers offer incentives to get shoppers in the door.
Wal-Mart says its stores will offer more than 100 toys for $10.
That's the kind of deal Melinda Sauvage is looking for.
"I'm a bargain shopper, sales and sales racks, I bargain shop," said Sauvage.
But experts believe consumers won't see the last-minute discounts this year. Retailers are planning ahead for a lackluster holiday season, so they're cutting back on inventory.