NEW YORK — This gift-giving season, $25 and under is the place to be.The economy is slowly recovering, yet consumers remain nervous, leading retailers to offer more items for $25 or less, experts say.
“A few years ago there was no price barrier for most retailers and most consumers,” said Kathy Deane, president of the New York-based retail consultancy Tobe. “Now consumers are looking for value. This is the year of $25 and under gifts.”
In the past, stores and malls focused on presents less than $50 or less than $100, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group.
“This year, the $25 price point really has resonated,” said Cohen. It’s what most people will spend for stocking stuffers or gifts for people outside their immediate family, he said.
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“That’s the magic price point line which retailers recognize is their target zone,” he said. “Twenty-five dollars buys someone a gift that says, ‘I thought about you.’ ’’
This year’s holidays will be cautious ones, said Cohen, with stores offering traditional, practical gifts.
“The retailer is going to say, ‘We understand the economy is challenging. Instead of trying to shove a $100 cashmere scarf down your throat, why don’t you give a $19.99 special lambswool scarf that feels like cashmere?’ ’’
Popular gifts are likely to include accessories and apparel such as costume jewelry, grooming gadgets, small leather goods, cold weather staples like lined gloves, cosmetic bags, wallets and cuff links for men. Also popular will be DVDs, books, electronics accessories and $25 gift cards, Cohen said.
“All kinds of things are going to be available to make your life a tiny bit better,” he said.
A look at some that cost no more than $25:
You can find a sweater for $25, but there are also many trendy and stylish accessories.
Try leggings, which are fashionable this fall and fit into spring’s skinny-leg silhouette. HUE offers cotton leggings for $25 in black, brown, navy, gray and purple, and HUE by Trina Turk special edition tights in argyle and two-tone patterns for $20 a pair. Both are available at Hue.com. “Leggings are the hottest selling thing right now. Everyone is obsessed with leggings,” says Alison Hessert, a spokeswoman for HUE.
For those who like to pull on their Wellies (non-insulated tall rubber boots) on a cold slushy day or for gardening, how about fleece boot liners from Hue for $10 a pair? They also can be worn around the house as slouchy slippers.
Fossil makes a contact lens case and a pill case ($20) or coin purses ($22) in a crewel-inspired print, available at Macy’s. There’s also a Jessica McClintock satin clutch in gold and other colors for $25 for evenings out, and a Dooney & Bourke coin purse for $25, both at macys.com.
Cosmetic bags, which often get grimy and need to be replaced, make a great gift. Trina makes a good-looking makeup bag that doubles as a clutch in stylish patterns and colors, from $22 at department stores like Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. There are colorful cosmetic cases from the resurgent LeSportsac at Macy’s for $20.
Costume jewelry is great for a fashionable friend. Macy’s has a selection of big faux cocktail rings for $25. “There’s no question that they would be fake, but they’re lots of fun,” says Linda Lee, group vice president of Macy’s By Appointment. A set of three stacking rings costs $25.
Shoppers will be looking for gifts that are fashionable and interesting, such as statement necklaces, bangles and leather wrist bands, Deane said.
A trio of gold-plated bangles from maxandchloe.com is $17. Or how about a faux-fur pull-through scarf from Mixit, $18 through the holidays at JCPenney?
For your favorite hostess, there’s a bountiful supply of stylish and practical items for the home. Think tea towels, note cards, candles, picture frames, decorative soaps, plants and flowers, food gifts and kitchen items. The Martha Stewart collection includes a cocktail shaker at Macy’s for $24.99, and holiday-themed spatulas.
For a wine lover, bottle stoppers can be had for $18 from slantcollections.com. There’s a faceted diamond stopper and others in animal prints like zebra and giraffe. Coasters are great for those who entertain often. A set of four inspired by hand-painted wallpaper made in China features birds and flowers and is available from williamsburgmarketplace.com.
For something different, there’s the Zip&Dry, an apron with a towel on the bottom that zips off. It’s $24.99 from justperfectinc.com and at Bed Bath & Beyond stores.
For women you know well who don’t always carry a purse — for instance, when they are jogging — there’s the Racktrap, a credit-card-size pocket that goes into the bra to hold essentials. From theracktrap.com, a single gold one costs $7.95, or there’s the “fashion fourpack” of white lace, black lace, nude lace and a sweat-proof blue sport version for $19.95.
The Bra Barrette adds some jeweled flair to the back of spaghetti tops and dresses, swimsuits or bras. From brabarrette.com, try the charmed version, with a silver heart, for $9.99.
For the guys, there’s the traditional gifts of socks and PJs, everyday items that many of our special guys don’t exactly go out and buy for themselves.
Macy’s has Gold Toe argyle socks for $8 a pair, or three pairs for $21 in traditional styles like pinstripe, pindot, and solid black, navy and brown.
Speaking of traditional, tie accessories are making something of a comeback. Macy’s carries tie clips and holders for $25. Cuff links made from recycled Legos are $14.99 from guffly.com.
For men who like to shave in the shower but have a mounted mirror at home, the ShavWet Shower Mirror is hand-held and good for travel. The mirror, from ShavWet.com, is $15.95 and comes with a strap and a sample of shaving cream. And if you think your man hasn’t been doing a good job trimming his goatee, there’s the GoateeSaver shaving template. From goateesaver.com, it’s $19.99.
Fans can keep baseball on the brain all winter with a handmade ball from Bergino.com. New models this year are called Ballparks of America Map, Peace and the Jerusalem Map.
There’s also pocket calculators, luggage tags and umbrellas, including ones for $22 by Totes at Macy’s.
Accessories for electronics like computers, cell phones and gaming systems are expected to be popular this season, Cohen said.
Wii fanatics may enjoy the new Wii MotionPlus for $19.49 from Amazon.com. It attaches to the Wii remote to increase accuracy and works with certain compatible games.
The Belkin 15.4-inch neoprene pixilated computer case comes in black and light gray or several other color combinations and is $24.99 at Amazon.com.
Mouse pads can be personalized at laylagrace.com for $24, and the popular aluminum SIGG water bottles can be tricked out with a saying, name or photo for $24.99 at cafepress.com.