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Mothers prefer gifts of fragrance to flowers, according to a new retail report.

The study for high street favourite Debenhams, reveals that 67% of mothers would rather receive perfume as a present than a short-lived bouquet, if given the choice.

However, it is important to choose the right scent as the survey for Debenhams showed that on average women in the UK own seven bottles of perfume, costing an estimated £49 each*, but they actually use only two regularly.

Only one perfume is worn on a daily basis and a second on evenings or “special occasions”, by 39% of women,19% say they wear up to three during the week, but have one favourite and 7% of those questioned said they wore only one perfume.

Almost 16% of women polled said they had not changed their regular fragrance in two years or more.

Sales of perfume have risen by more than a third (35%) at Debenhams compared to this time last year as the popularity of fragrances continues to grow.

“Perfume is still seen as a lovely treat by many women,” said Sara Stern, Trading Director Health & Beauty for Debenhams, “It is a little touch of affordable luxury which makes it a perfect present for women of all ages.

“This time of year we do see a spike in sales as families often choose fragrance as a gift in the run up to Mother’s Day”. “The added appeal of a beautiful bottle of perfume is probably due to the fact that it is a gift that lasts, whereas flowers are lovely but have a limited life-span. Although it obviously pays to ensure you know the perfume preferences of the lady you are buying for with so many women owning unused bottles of fragrance – me included!”

Fragrance Expert Lorna McKay, co-founder of The Perfume Society said she was not surprised that fragrance was such a welcome gift for mums:

“Most mothers are anything if not practical and perfume is the gift that keeps on giving, as long as it is stored carefully, away from heat and light, which are the enemy of fragrance, it can keep for years.” She also went on to share her top tips for choosing a fragrance gift:

    Do your research – what perfume does she already wear? Have a sneaky look on her dressing table. You don’t have to get the exact same scent if you think she might be open to a perfume-update. A knowledgeable sales assistant can guide you to a different scent within that fragrance family, so you can be innovative, without making a risky purchase.

    Buy something inspirational – if she is an elegant lady who loves classical music don’t go for a glitzy, pop star’s branded perfume. Look for something that would reflect how she would like others to see her.

    As you age your sense of smell diminishes so just because a fragrance might not smell very strong to you remember it could be far more overpowering to those with a more developed sense of smell. Sometimes a stronger scent can enter a room before the wearer and leave its presence felt long after they have left. Less is often more with fine fragrance.

    Think about the personality of the recipient – would she like a “loud” showy perfume, or a “quiet” more subtle scent. In general the Oriental fragrance family tend to be louder and stronger, while the Fresh family are softer, lighter and more airy.

    When does she normally wear perfume? Would she spray it on every day, only on evenings out or just on special occasions? A perfume to be worn daily might have a lighter base note so be less obvious in everyday interactions, whereas one chosen for special occasions might have a stronger base note and linger more.

    If you are still spoilt for choice and the woman you are buying for is a chocolate lover you could always could always choose a perfume from the Gourmand group – the newest of the fragrance families, these scents have so-called “edible” notes. Think chocolate, caramel, candyfloss and a generous helping of vanilla – only with this gift it will be a moment on the pulse points and nothing to worry about on the hips!  

A recent report from retail analysts Mintel showed sales growth of 4.5% in fragrance  and estimated the market to be worth £1.38 billion. Fine fragrances generate around 82% of the perfume market value.

Debenhams top ten areas for perfume sales are:

1.         London

2.         Birmingham

3.         Leeds

4.         Liverpool

5.         Glasgow

6.         Merryhill - Dudley

7.         Silverburn - Pollock

8.         Manchester

9.         Milton Keynes

10.       Trafford centre


Notes to Editors:

* For average value per bottle used average size 75ml and most the purchased fragrance concentration, eau de parfum.

    Survey questioned over 2000 UK women aged 18 and over – question about preference of perfume or flowers was addressed only to UK mothers aged 18 and over.

About Us
Debenhams is a leading international, multi-channel brand with a proud British heritage which trades out of over 240 stores across 27 countries. Debenhams gives its customers around the world a unique, differentiated and exclusive mix of own brands, international brands and concessions.

Debenhams has been investing in design for over 20 years through its exclusive Designers at Debenhams portfolio of brands. Current designers include Abigail Ahern, Jeff Banks, Jasper Conran, Sadie Frost and Jemima French, Patrick Grant, Henry Holland, Betty Jackson, Stephen Jones, Ben de Lisi, Todd Lynn, Julien Macdonald, Jenny Packham, Ren Pearce and Andrew Fionda, Aliza Reger, John Rocha, Ashley Thomas, Justin Thornton, Thea Bregazzi, Eric Van Peterson and Matthew Williamson. 


For more information and images please contact:

Debenhams Press Office
0203 549 6420 /

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