This was my second year working the fragrance counter at a department store, so I really got to see first-hand the difference in my shoppers. Last year, many came to me as a last choice when they didn’t know what else to get. Also, people wanted very low prices because they had bought something more expensive as a gift, such as a flat-screen television, and the fragrance was an add-on. This year, right off the bat, even before Black Friday, I had people buying holiday fragrances. Many shoppers were looking for classic scents such as Shalimar and Estée Lauder Beautiful. They weren’t as driven by new launches, but we did sell a significant amount of Vera Wang Preppy Princess and the Juicy brands. Gucci Guilty, the 2.5 oz., was one of our most popular new brands. I was surprised by how much the customers knew about what they wanted and what they didn’t. Many knew what fragrances were new and what they smelled like. They’re also totally up on which celebrities are coming out with a fragrance. The popular price range was about $75 for single items and $90 to $100 for sets; shoppers weren’t as driven by gifts-with-purchase. Many did say they were trying to spend enough at stores to get gift cards offered. I was pleasantly surprised to see more men buying both for themselves and as gifts. They, too, knew more about what they wanted and many said they had researched fragrances online. I think when all of the results are finalized, my department will be up slightly over last year.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written by a fragrance specialist at a major department store chain in the Northeast.]

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