teri polo bio The most popular gift in the US
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The most gifted piece of apparel during the holidays? Sweaters? Nope. Scarves? No. Ties or hats? Not those either.
Socks. The dowdy necessity long regarded as one of the most boring gifts ever, is suddenly cool.
Sales of socks particularly funky, patterned, novel varieties are on the upswing, as more Americans look to express themselves through their footwear, according to market research firm NPD Group. And as the holidays near, retailers say we’re approaching peak buying season: Roughly 20 percent of sock purchases take place in December.
“There are no rules anymore: Color explosions, crazy themes, patterns without any rhyme or reason,” said Gary Henkin, senior vice president of global sales at Polo Ralph Lauren Hosiery, which includes the popular brand Hot Sox. “Socks have become the ultimate impulse buy.”A decade ago, he says, men might have looked to unique ties to express their personalities. But as business casual becomes the norm in the workplace and athletic inspired loungewear takes hold everywhere else people are increasingly turning to socks to make a statement.
More than 253 million pairs of socks were bought as presents last holiday season, outperforming shirts, sleepwear and sweaters, according to data from the NPD group. And many retailers say this holiday season is shaping up to be the busiest one yet for sock sales.
“Oh my goodness gracious, absolutely, socks are an enormous revenue center for us,” said Michele Cosby, owner of Chocolate Moose, a novelty gift shop in downtown Washington. “Christmas and Hanukkah are far and away the biggest sock times for us.”
Currently on the store’s shelves: 111 varieties, including pairs covered in rolls of toilet paper, pizza slices, cows, penguins and Michelangelo’s David that sell for $6 to $12. Cosby says holiday demand for socks has been particularly pronounced in recent years, as customers look for inexpensive and practical gifts. Many people, she said, end up buying socks as Secret Santa gifts for colleagues or relatives.
“People are hard to buy for. They have everything,” she said. “Socks are practical they’re useful and fun, and something you can get for someone even if you don’t know them very well.”