MILAN — Italian executives at high-end perfumery stores agreed that over the summer, fresh and light fragrances have helped give their businesses a kick.

The retailers reported sales increases of between 10 and 20 percent over the same period last year.

Both men and women, the merchants said, have been purchasing a slew of fragrances that can be worn at the beach or that help make you feel fresh during the steamy Milanese summer days.

“The men’s business is a little slower than the women’s just because men wait for a bottle to be finished before buying another one,” noted Maddalena Materno, director of a unit of the Desiree chain.

Overall, sales patterns indicate that women are more prone to changing their habits and trying out the new and trendy fragrances, while men are more loyal to one perfume, retailers noted.

“It’s easier to make a man change his wife than his fragrance,” joked Tina Ravasi of the Mazzolari chain. “They’ll listen to advice, but at the end they decide.”

When it comes to the men’s fragrance business, executives agreed that in general, men are more apt to buy pungent and woody perfumes, but in the summer they sometimes change to lighter ones.

Over the summer months, the top-selling men’s items listed by executives included Calvin Klein’s Eternity and Obsession, XS by Paco Rabanne, Insensé by Givenchy, and Eau Sauvage and Fahrenheit by Christian Dior.

For the younger crowd, Versace’s Jeans and Kenzo performed well.

The retailers also said they are excited about the Italian debut of both the men’s and women’s Escape fragrances by Calvin Klein, scheduled for the fall, because they should stir some attention.

“When an important fragrance like Escape hits the market, the success also reflects on the existing (Calvin Klein) fragrances,” noted Desiree’s Materno.

Eye-catching packaging and advertising continue to be the strongest support methods for the success of a fragrance, the merchants noted, especially in the men’s market.

“Men walk in and specifically ask to smell a certain fragrance. They are much more informed than in the past, and they always buy with a measured approach,” said Materno.

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Gabriele Terribile, owner of the La Profumissima chain, maintained that “men are aware of advertising because that way they feel more up-to-date.”

Sabrina Trentarossi of Baratti/Douglas said that few men walk in without having clear ideas on what they want.

Terribile noted that in his stores, younger people follow the market trends, while adults are less daring and stick to the more traditional fragrances.

“To stimulate sales, we have decided to introduce special higher discount rates that we call ‘Happy Hour’ because they’re applied during certain periods of the day — the early morning hours or the hottest ones,” he said.

While most executives reported that aftershaves are at a standstill, they claimed that men are spending more money on complementary bath lines and treatment products.

“Men don’t only limit themselves to fragrances. We have taught our clients, for example, that if they want to buy an aftershave they should get a curative one that protects their skins from the cold in winter, for instance,” said Mazzolari’s Ravasi.

If women are more oriented toward the 50-ml. sizes, men prefer the 100-ml. ones, merchants noted.

“They buy the 50-ml. sizes only if they travel a lot and need a smaller bottle,” said Ravasi.

When it comes to the ladies’ choices, women have been opting lately for summery and fresh perfumes, with L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake still leading the way as the top item.

Other women’s fragrances that have been showing solid sales at Italian perfumery stores include Eternity by Calvin Klein, Eden by Cacharel, Sun by Jil Sander, Sunflowers from Elizabeth Arden, Parfum d’Ete by Kenzo, Eau Parfumée by Bulgari and Christian Dior’s Tendre Poison.