Consumer Tips



Holiday Shoppers Find Luxury
More Affordable Online

(ARA) - If you’ve been anywhere near a mall lately, you can’t help but notice the holiday shopping season has arrived. The parking lots are packed and there seem to be people everywhere.

Gay Reese of Scottsdale, Ariz., used to be one of the faces in the crowd, spending the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas racing around town looking for gifts, but not anymore. She’s now among the growing number of Americans who rely on the Internet for something they can’t find in stores: good bargains on luxury gifts. “Unless you live in or near Manhattan, you’re not going to find discounts on designer brands in a retail store. For me, shopping online is the next best thing.”

More people than ever before are expected to shop online for their gifts this holiday season, due largely to its convenience and competitive pricing. “People are becoming more comfortable shopping online, and this time of year, they want to avoid the big crowds and long lines, so the Internet is a convenient place to go,” says Abha Bhagat, a senior analyst with Nielsen Net Ratings.

According to a Nielsen Net Ratings eSpending Report, online spending jumped from $11 billion in 2001 to $13.7 billion in 2002, a more than 24 percent increase. “Shopping online also allows you to make price comparisons without having to run around town. People like that,” says Bhagat.

If last year’s sales figures are any indication, traditional gifts, such as toys, books and music will do well again this year. Analysts also expect to see a jump in spending on high ticket items such as consumer electronics and designer clothing. “Luxury items make great gifts. They make the recipient feel special, and a gift of quality is always welcome,” says Ken Seiff, CEO of Bluefly.com. “But luxury isn’t just for the super-wealthy anymore.”

Bluefly.com is one of the few places consumers can find designer men’s and women’s apparel online, at discount prices. “It wasn’t so long ago that people were hesitant to shop for clothes online, but we’ve made it easy for them -- and at discounts of up to 75%, we’ve made it very affordable,” says Seiff. “Not only does shopping on the Web offer round-the-clock access and safe transactions, our customers know they’ll find what’s hot and in fashion featured on our site.”

Bluefly’s recently redesigned Web site allows consumers to shop by designer, category, price or size. There are pictures posted with each item along with detailed information about the designer. “The site is easy to navigate. Shoppers can zoom in on the merchandise to see details, and for shoppers who aren’t exactly sure what they want, there’s a keyword search function that can help them narrow down their choices,” says Seiff.

So what will the hot sellers in apparel be this year? “I think cashmere sweaters, leather and suede items, shearling and faux shearling, designer handbags and designer boots are going to do well. They all make great gifts,” says Ellin Saltzman, Bluefly.com’s fashion director.

Saltzman also notes that luxury home accessories are expected to do well this year. Bluefly.com offers cashmere throws, 600 thread count cotton sheets, placemats, pillows, and crystal glassware all at competitive prices.

For more information on Bluefly, call (877) BLUEFLY or log onto www.bluefly.com. You can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to providing shopping assistance and personal recommendations, Bluefly's customer service representatives (called Flyreps) are available to assist customers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. Flyreps also provide technical support and take orders over the phone.

Courtesy of ARA Content




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