The holiday season is well underway with Lycos reporting significant spikes in search traffic for toy and gift related items over the past week. Traditionally merchants expect the shopping spree to begin the week after the US Thanksgiving holiday however electronic shoppers tend to start earlier.

Tomorrow, Lycos will be releasing its sixth annual list of the season’s most popular toys and video games, culled from the weekly Lycos50. While there is often a lot of interesting information in the Lycos50, the annual Holiday shopping search lists are especially fun. This year’s list is different from previous ones in that high-tech electronic toys make up half the list with more traditional types of toys pushed off. It also confirms the continued cultural reign of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Who’dathunkit? SpongeBob SquarePants is four times as popular as Thomas the Tank Engine, six times more popular than Elmo and twelve times as popular as Bob the Builder. As a matter of fact, SpongeBob is the only licensed cartoon character to make the Top10 this year.

Absent for the first time is Star Wars themed toys and Lego. Also missing are the Bratz line of dolls and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. They have been replaced by technology.

As for the video game crowd, 2005 marks the first year the Top10 list hasn’t mentioned a sports related game. The number one video game related search might surprise readers as well, especially since searchers weren’t looking for the game itself but for game-credits to give as gifts.

Over the past week, the biggest jumps in search activity across the board have been for online toy, specialty and department stores. Target has seen a 225% increase in searches, Dicks Sporting Goods is up 205%, Wal-Mart’s search traffic has increased 192% and Toys R Us is up 165%. JCrew seems to be the most popular clothing line with coupon searches up 210%.

The annual list is going to be published tomorrow.