The shoppers want to be coddled. They are seeking knowledgeable service, chic packaging and visually compelling interiors.

New York City-based Alix Partners reached those conclusions after interviewing 850 consumers for its 2006 Luxury Department Store Research Study.

Customers were asked to rank a series of shopping expectations on a scale from 1 to 5 for five stores: Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s.

“Basic services such as the ability to easily return merchandise and talk to a knowledgeable associate are very important to consumers,” said Fred Crawford, a managing director of Alix Partners. “The devil is in the details.” At stake: the $1 trillion luxury market in the U.S. last year.

For the complete WWDList, see tomorrow’s issue of WWD.

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