Byline: Brenda Lloyd

ATLANTA — Southeast-based discounters are increasing fragrance and bath gift set inventories for the holiday season by as much as 15 percent. And more.
While many view gift sets as mainly a holiday business, others are finding the items have a place in their stores on a year-round basis.
Jerome Falice, vice chairman of Perfumania in Miami, said that his stores sell fragrance and bath gift sets year round and have for several years. “It’s a good value for the customer,” he said.
The most popular gift sets, according to retailers, are bath and body related and include massage kits and lotions.
Jeff Fernandez, beauty aids buyer for the 250-unit Fred’s discount pharmacy chain based in Memphis, Tenn., said that his bath area has been exploding this past year, especially as bath washes continue to gain popularity with women.
Fernandez bought 19 percent more bath gift sets for this year’s holiday period than he did last year. As the chain’s holiday business continues to grow every year, said Fernandez, he foresees the day when bath gift sets could become a year-round business.
One of Fred’s advantages in the bath gift set category, said Fernandez, is that it can put a bath gift set on the floor for $5 to $7 that’s very similar to what’s found in more upscale stores, like Bath & Body Works, and carry a price more like $20 or $30.
All of Fred’s gift set offerings are private or controlled labels.
Fernandez will be merchandising gift sets on tables or in end-of-aisle displays in his beauty aids area. “If the category becomes a steady seller,” he said, “then I’ll planogram it near the soaps and lotions.”
Frank Bankston, Fred’s fragrance buyer, has increased his inventory by 15 percent over last year in expectation of a strong holiday season for fragrance gift sets.
Bankston’s optimism is based on the fact that Fred’s reduced prices on fragrance gift sets and increased its selection.
The fragrance gift sets he buys includes colognes with bath powders, lotions or other scented products.
Perfumania’s Falice said gift sets are a growing business for him. Sales are up around 20 percent in fragrance gift sets so far this year and up about 25 percent in bath sets. Falice expects similar increases for the holiday period.
Perfumania will be putting more emphasis on its bath and body gift sets, which are private label, as a result of its acquisition of Nature’s Elements, a retail chain that sold its own products.
Perfumania is expanding and repackaging Nature’s Elements’ bath and body products and will add an aromatherapy gift set. The changes will be launched at the beginning of 1998, although Nature’s Elements gift sets will be available in Perfumania for the holidays.
In the fragrance category, Perfumania carries department store brands such as Guerlain’s Shalimar, Liz Claiborne, Giorgio, Giorgio’s Red and Lancome’s Tresor. Gift sets that include items like a spray, a lotion, bath powder, and soap retail for a few dollars above the price of a regular spray, said Falice.

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