By  on June 10, 1994

DALLAS -- A solid Mother's Day added momentum to an already booming women's fragrance business, according to Southwest stores.

Sales leading up to the holiday on May 8 were ahead 5 to 34 percent against last year, the retailers reported, adding that overall, women's fragrance volume was trending ahead by 5 to 18 percent this spring. They projected that the steady growth would continue throughout the summer and fall.

The stores pointed to clean, less heady fragrances as most in demand, citing Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers and summer-only scents such as Escada's Summer in Provence as bestsellers.

Fragrance layering also continues to build in popularity with consumers, as body lotions, oils and spray talcs now are likely components of a fragrance sale.

Other ancillary products, such as scented shower gels and foaming baths, are expected to be summer hits, as well.

New launches that retailers are looking forward to in the upcoming months include Bulgari and Ultima II's Head Over Heels.

In addition to new products, though, stores are also banking on special beauty-oriented in-store events, featuring multiple vendors and special gift offers to lure additional traffic. The activity will be especially hectic this fall, the retailers noted.

Kathy Hebert, fragrance buyer at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Plano, Tex., said the women's fragrance business is up 8 to 9 percent against last year, and forecasted growth of at least 10 percent for summer and fall.

For Mother's Day, sales were ahead by 10 percent, which Hebert attributed partially to Penney's customized gift baskets.

Bestsellers at Penney's include Chanel No. 5, Guerlain's Shalimar, White Shoulders, Chloe, Halston and Elizabeth Taylor's Passion.

The store will launch Chloe Narcisse in late August and will introduce Karl Lagerfeld's Photo for Men around the same time.

Penney's is still finalizing plans for a multiple-vendor beauty event set for October that will encompass color, treatment and fragrance, Hebert noted.

She called the chain's holiday promotional plans aggressive, but she declined to elaborate because the strategies were still on the planning boards.

Neiman Marcus plans to launch Bulgari's women's fragrance early this fall, according to John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics. He added that other launch plans were still in negotiation.

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