The Potters' struggles in attack were again highlighted in a goalless draw with Cardiff at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday night in which their only shot on target came from a free-kick.
When Hughes replaced Tony Pulis in the summer he placed great emphasis on improving the side's ball retention and creating more opportunities, but they have managed only 12 goals in 14 Barclays Premier League matches.
Stoke thought they had already secured an extra striker for January when United States international Juan Agudelo signed a pre-contract agreement but he was refused a work permit, sending Hughes back to the drawing board.
The manager said: "It's an area we know we're a little bit short in and we need to try to improve that aspect of our play.
"We'll try to look at that in January if we can but it's not easy. You can get lucky and bring in a couple that can have a marked effect.
"We can't make mistakes, we've got to make sure it's the right players, and if they're not available then we might be better served keeping our money for the summer.
"We'll see what's out there, see if we've got the means to bring decent players in, but they need to be players that can come into our first XI and have an impact."
The draw at least helped both teams move further away from the relegation zone, with a four-point gap now separating the pair from the bottom three.
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay was happy with a point, and knows his side must show more of the same attitude if they are to stay out of trouble.
He said: "I spoke to a few Premier League managers before the season started and one of the things they all impressed upon me was how tough it is to pick up any sort of result away from home in this league.
"I've been here many a time and the crowd are magnificent, they really get behind their team. That atmosphere can build and it can put teams on the back foot, so I was delighted at how brave we were to actually keep possession of the ball playing against that kind of hostile atmosphere.
"In this league it's about making sure you keep chipping away and picking up points."
Fraizer Campbell was at the centre of many of the game's talking points, having a penalty shout turned down and then appearing to be pushed over by Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam, who had already been booked for a foul on the striker, while Cardiff prepared to take a free-kick.
The former Manchester United forward has scored three times this season, all against the Manchester clubs, and Mackay sees him as a big asset.
The Cardiff manager said: "He's a Premier League centre forward. He's shown that already this season.
"He's somebody who works a back four, and a centre forward who's got a work ethic about him is gold dust. You want to have them absolutely involved at every point in your team.
"With his pace and his aggression he gets in and around people, and then they can make mistakes - a good delivery forward becomes a rushed delivery forward.
"And if there had been more good deliveries forward we could have been in a lot of trouble with big Peter (Crouch) playing up on the edge of the box."
Hughes, a former Wales striker and manager, was impressed by the Bluebirds and backed them to avoid relegation.
He said: "Cardiff are a good team. They're well organised and they flood the area where the ball is. They've got a goal threat up front, decent pace to cause teams problems.
"They've proved already that they're a decent side in the Premier League so if they can keep on performing then they've got a good chance."