GIFT SETS GET TOP BILLING IN SOUTHWEST

Byline: Lynn Richardson

DALLAS — Attractive merchandising is one reason gift sets are strong year-round in drugstores here, according to retailers.
The 11,000-square-foot Post Oak Pharmacy, in the fashionable uptown area of Houston near the Galleria, gives gift sets prominent display on six 90-inch round tables.
Three of the tables have a theme and are individually lighted and enhanced by ceiling-to-floor banners, “just like the department stores,” said Richard Spence, co-owner of the family-run pharmacy. The market for gift sets is healthy all year in the store, he added.
“The savings are obvious,” said Spence. “When a customer can see the open-stock prices and calculate there is already one free item in the set, it sells itself.”
Ahava and Essential Elements fragrance and bath sets are perennial bestsellers, he added.
Guerlain’s quarterly value sets are a strong seller for the store, and the post-holiday special is an especially quick seller at Post Oak, said Spence. The classic Caswell-Massey Christmas set always sells out, he added.
Post Oak frequently makes up its own gift sets to entice customers to try a new line, generally including a free lotion or soap.
Spence credits manufacturers’ representatives for their strong support, which benefits the store’s gift set sales. According to Spence, distributor Sanofi Beaute has helped stimulate the market with gift-with-purchase offers on a range of French perfume sets, including L’Air du Temps and Shalimar.
In Dallas, gift-set sales are healthy year-round, according to Tiffany Smith, a saleswoman at Dougherty’s Drugstore.
The front of the store is dedicated to gift sets, and Israel Dead Sea cosmetics from Ahava and German Kneipp bath products are bestsellers.
Sales obviously are going to increase for the holidays, said Smith, but the top sellers are likely to be those that are popular year-round, too. These include Sun Moon Stars perfume sets from Lagerfeld, Passion for Men’s set of cologne, shower gel and moisturizer, and Red Door’s set of lipstick, perfume spray and body lotion.
Fragrance gift sets don’t do much year-round business at McIntosh Pharmacy in Longview, Tex., according to buyer Tobi Downs. “Fragrances are not much in demand here; our best lines are in skin care and bath, with perfumes coming in third,” said Downs.
She is more optimistic about gift set sales for the holiday season. In preparation, the store will stock Elizabeth Arden’s Fifth Avenue and Red Door sets; Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds and Passion and Passion for Men sets. Gift set displays will go up after Halloween, and the chain will start advertising the sets then.

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