NEW YORK — Retailers and manufacturers are hoping to put more sparkle in Christmas sales with whimsical merchandise and a few tactics borrowed from the Eighties.

With consumers heading into the season feeling cautious, a little holiday dazzle is needed to boost excitement in the mass retail channel this year, noted Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail. In addition to great value and convenience, shoppers are hoping to stumble upon a “pleasant surprise” — items that are innovative and fun — while navigating through the aisles of mass retailers and chain drugstores, added Liebmann.

Overall, retailers forecast holiday sales will slide past last year’s by only 4 to 5 percent. Interestingly, much of that gain will be accomplished not by fragrances, but by color products. Many color products are bought as impulse stocking stuffers and, item by item, can ratchet up sales increases.

“We see a dramatic increase in the amount of lip gloss sold in December,” said Steph Fogelson, president of Lotta Luv. Lotta Luv is gearing up for holiday with more candy and snack licenses than ever, such as Tootsie Roll and Twinkie. This year, there are multiple packages of gift sets to spur stocking-stuffer purchasing.

For adults’ stockings, Marti Bentley, category manager for beauty at Duane Reade, is excited about L’Oréal Kissable Lip color.

This holiday is all about clever packaging and products, buyers said. Unique kits from Markwins International were hits at drugstores, including Walgreens and Medic Drug. “Sometimes it isn’t enough anymore to have the right colors, consumers like a little twist so we are doing more interesting things with cases and other ideas,” said Bill George, the head of North American operations for Markwins.

Another perfect example of collections giving shoppers something beyond traditional is the holiday collection from Sonia Kashuk. Three limited-edition kits offer color for eyes, lips and cheeks, along with a magnifying mirror and travel brushes. Each grouping boasts a pop art, floral design. The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun kit has a slot to hold a driver’s license or credit card. Another kit is so tiny it fits into the palm of the hand — yet features three eye shadows, three lip glosses and blush. The final one is a fold-over kit with three glosses, three eye shadows, two blushes and six makeup brushes. The line is sold exclusively at Target.

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