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Little Jimmy's at the tree extracting an oblong box from the stash. Ripping off the paper, his jaw drops in astonishment. It's no Wii; it's a raincheck. His parents didn't quite purchase a Nintendo Wii, you see. Little Jimmy can't exchange the slip of paper until the red-hot videogame consoles are in stock again, supposedly sometime in January. Yes, even a full year after launch, retailers can't keep Wiis on shelves. Analysts estimate Nintendo has lost $1 billion in sales this holiday because of the shortage. So while Nintendo USA topper Reggie Fils-Aimé says the raincheck program is a way for parents to put a Wii under the tree, we doubt Little Jimmy will be fooled. Wall Street analysts, on the other hands, may well be.

GameStop will sell the Wii rain checks for $249.99 on Thursday and Friday. A GameStop shift supervisor tells Consumerist that this kind of preorder counts in the store's net sales. GameStop's annual reports are mum on how the company actually accounts for preorders. The program will certainly lift the company's cash flow well in advance of when GameStop actually has to make good on its holiday promises. Ho ho ho!