VALUE. That seems to be the buying demand of consumers as we move into the big Christmas 2009 season. Practicality and thrift are the over-riding considerations as buyers make their way into the sales arena, planning on picking up special gifts for family and friends.
According to Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor, “women will be decidedly prudent about what and how they buy this holiday season.” Sensible gifts are high on the agenda, things like gift cards, toys, and apparel. Fashion Accessories rack up high popularity figures, too, as they are easy to purchase, don’t require sizing, and can inject a touch of luxury, often at a reasonable price.
HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC GIFTS THAT FIT THOSE CRITERIA:
- Ladies’ scarves with pattern of small brown and silvery white squares. Classy!
- Chenille scarf, hat, glove sets. Packaged together and perfect for gift-giving!
Value added was of strategic importance in the minds of many prospective customers. For example, many women said that investing in apparel that is practical but still has special details that set it apart makes them feel like they are getting value for money well spent.
–Casual designs were also put high on that practicality list, like handbags that have special compartments for carrying different items, or jewelry that has interchangeable pendants or that can be worn in several different ways. More for less: that’s the call.
“I think women are going to go for the affordable fashion item,” said Michelle Madhok, an internet fashion editor. “Smaller items are also big this year, like fingerless gloves, infinity cotton scarves, and anything faux fur, like trapper hats.”
Women are also looking to get more for their dollar. A remarkable 96 percent of females polled said they will be looking for sales this year. That’s a really high number! What’s also a big number, and even more disturbing, is that 64 percent of the polled women said they will be spending less money on gifts this year. A lot will be going the internet route, buying on line despite the added cost of shipping. That will make retailers’ work a little more difficult, as they run to get a bigger share of buyers’ diminishing gift-purchase budgets.
Steps To Take
What steps can you take to increase your income this Christmas? Industry sources say, first and foremost:
- Give and emphasize personal service. Don’t just let customers buy or leave the store. Help them choose good gifts. Be a consultant.
- Offer a well-chosen collection of gifts at different price points. Keep your choices somewhat below price. Remember that “sales” element women talked about wanting!
- Go for practicality with added value. A touch of glitz to an otherwise practical design is great!
GIFTS WITH ADDED VALUE WILL APPARENTLY BE BIG SALES ITEMS THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. HERE ARE SOME THAT COULD ADD BIG VALUE TO YOUR HOLIDAY INVENTORY:
- Oversized tote in washed metallic colors. Embroidery and sequins add subtle sparkle.
- Bangle bracelets with colored stones. Silver plated. Worn alone or in multiples. Very trendy!
The Power of Gift Cards
SOME OF THE Lifestyle Monitor’s survey figures are really interesting and can be extremely helpful to fashion accessory retailers. For example, two in three females said they would prefer a gift card over an actual gift. Women like the idea of being able to buy what they personally want, instead of accepting the tastes and decisions of another. They increasingly appreciate being able to control their own lives, in all of many ways, large and small.
This is a good point for retailers to keep in mind. Gift cards give control to the receiver. They are easy to make up (you can do it on you computer!) and make for a quick sale. Just be sure to give each one a number and back it up with sales information to use when it is brought into your store. Put up a sign in the store showing that you have gift cards available, and put some effort into selling them.
It is usually easier to sell a card for anything in your store than to sell a particular item! But remember: Gift Cards should be for purchase only, not for refund! Idea: If you are unsure of how to design and write up a Gift Card, just pick up an inexpensive one at your local department store and copy the layout.
WHICH BRINGS US TO AN IMPORTANT PLACE IN HOLIDAY PLANNING. A few hours taken out to visit your premium stores can pay off big this time of year. The majors usually get their Christmas decorations up early, so now is the time to get out with a pad and pen to jot down some of the creative things they’ve done that you especially like. Ask yourself: What good looking decorations can you duplicate in your store? A Christmas Tree decorated with jewelry? A Tropical Christmas theme? A Rock ‘n Roll Holiday? This is a wonderful season. Enjoy it! Help your customers enjoy it, too. After all, everybody wants to be happy.
–And you know what? Happy customers usually buy!