NEW YORK (AP) - 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, expertssay.
"A few years ago there was no price barrier for most retailersand most consumers," said Kathy Deane, president of the NewYork-based retail consultancy Tobe. "Now consumers are looking forvalue. This is the year of $25 and under gifts."
In the past, stores and malls focused on presents less than $50or less than $100, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst atmarket research firm NPD Group.
"This year, the $25 price point really has resonated," saidCohen. It's what most people will spend for stocking stuffers orgifts for people outside their immediate family, he said.
"That's the magic price point line which retailers recognize istheir target zone," he said. "Twenty-five dollars buys someone agift that says, 'I thought about you.'"
This year's holidays will be cautious ones, said Cohen, withstores offering traditional, practical gifts.
"The retailer is going to say, 'We understand the economy ischallenging. Instead of trying to shove a $100 cashmere scarf downyour throat, why don't you give a $19.99 special lambswool scarfthat feels like cashmere?'"
Popular gifts are likely to include accessories and apparel suchas costume jewelry, grooming gadgets, small leather goods, coldweather staples like lined gloves, cosmetic bags, wallets and cufflinks for men. Also popular will be DVDs, books, electronicsaccessories and $25 gift cards, Cohen said.
"All kinds of things are going to be available to make your lifea 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 trendyand stylish accessories.
Try leggings, which are fashionable this fall and fit intospring's skinny-leg silhouette. HUE offers cotton leggings for $25in black, brown, navy, gray and purple, and HUE by Trina Turkspecial edition tights in argyle and two-tone patterns for $20 apair. Both are available at Hue.com. "Leggings are the hottestselling thing right now. Everyone is obsessed with leggings," saysAlison Hessert, a spokeswoman for HUE.
For those who like to pull on their Wellies (non-insulated tallrubber boots) on a cold slushy day or for gardening, how aboutfleece boot liners from Hue for $10 a pair? They also can be wornaround the house as slouchy slippers.
Fossil makes a contact lens case and a pill case ($20) or coinpurses ($22) in a crewel-inspired print, available at Macy's.There's also a Jessica McClintock satin clutch in gold and othercolors for $25 for evenings out, and a Dooney & Bourke coinpurse 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 thatdoubles as a clutch in stylish patterns and colors, from $22 atdepartment stores like Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. There arecolorful cosmetic cases from the resurgent LeSportsac at Macy's for$20.
Costume jewelry is great for a fashionable friend. Macy's has as election of big faux cocktail rings for $25. "There's no questionthat they would be fake, but they're lots of fun," says Linda Lee,group vice president of Macy's By Appointment. A set of threestacking rings costs $25.
Shoppers will be looking for gifts that are fashionable andinteresting, such as statement necklaces, bangles and leather wristbands, Deane said.
A trio of gold-plated bangles from maxandchloe.com is $17. Or how about afaux-fur pull-through scarf from Mixit, $18 through the holidays atJCPenney?
For your favorite hostess, there's a bountiful supply of stylishand practical items for the home. Think tea towels, note cards,candles, picture frames, decorative soaps, plants and flowers, foodgifts and kitchen items. The Martha Stewart collection includes acocktail shaker at Macy's for $24.99, and holiday-themedspatulas.
For a wine lover, bottle stoppers can be had for $18 from slantcollections.com . There's a faceteddiamond stopper and others in animal prints like zebra and giraffe.Coasters are great for those who entertain often. A set of fourinspired by hand-painted wallpaper made in China features birds andflowers and is available from williamsburgmarketplace.com .
For something different, there's the Zip&Dry, an apron witha 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, acredit-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 asweat-proof blue sport version for $19.95.
The Bra Barrette adds some jeweled flair to the back ofspaghetti 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 ultra-traditional gift of socks andPJs, everyday items that many of our special guys don't exactly goout and buy for themselves.
Macy's has Gold Toe argyle socks for $8 a pair, or three pairsfor $21 in traditional styles like pinstripe, pindot, and solidblack, navy and brown.
Speaking of traditional, tie accessories are making something ofa comeback. Macy's carries tie clips and holders for $25. Cufflinks made from recycled Legos are $14.99 from guffly.com .
For men who like to shave in the shower but have a mountedmirror at home, the ShavWet Shower Mirror is hand-held and good fortravel. The mirror, from ShavWet.com , is $15.95 and comes with a strapand a sample of shaving cream. And if you think your man hasn'tbeen doing a good job trimming his goatee, there's the GoateeSavershaving template. From goateesaver.com , it's $19.99.
Fans can keep baseball on the brain all winter with a handmadeball from Bergino.com . New models this year are calledBallparks 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 andgaming systems are expected to be popular this season, Cohensaid.
Wii fanatics may enjoy the new Wii MotionPlus for $19.49 from Amazon.com . It attaches to the Wii remote toincrease accuracy and works with certain compatible games.
The Belkin 15.4-inch neoprene pixilated computer case comes inblack 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, andthe popular aluminum SIGG water bottles can be tricked out with asaying, name or photo for $24.99 at cafepress.com .
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