By  on March 18, 1994

NEW YORK -- Alpha-hydroxy acid-based skin care is no fad, according to department store retailers here.

The merchants noted that last year's bevy of AHA launches continues to post strong sales, while customers are showing no signs of losing interest in the technology. In a sign that the acid-based products are proving to be actually efficacious, customers are coming back to counters for return sales.

Because of the unabating interest in the category, the treatment business has been showing growth in the high-single to low double-digit percentage range, the retailers said.

"Alpha-hydroxy acids are still driving the business," said Jane Scott, vice president of cosmetics and fragrance at Bloomingdale's. "Some items are doing double-digit percentages of a brand's total sales.

"There's a great acceptance level with consumers," she continued. "They're responding very well to the claims made by companies, and they're returning for more purchases."

Scott said skin care had shown "high-single-digit gains" at Bloomingdale's through last year.

"This January was tough, with all the bad weather," she said. "But sales are starting to climb back up."

"The whole group of alpha-hydroxy products continues to drive customers to the counter," said Rita Burke, senior vice president for cosmetics and fragrance at Macy's East.

She noted that the treatment business was ahead in the "teens."

"From what we can see and from my own use -- I'm a firm believer -- the technological advances are working, and we're seeing repeat sales," she said. "All the hype, the claims companies are making and all the press these products are getting are bringing people in. This is not a fad -- it's here to stay. Just about every alpha-hydroxy launch from last year continues to be very strong."

"AHA's are still doing well," said Ed Burstell, cosmetics and fragrance buyer at Henri Bendel. "The interest is definitely still there."

Burstell noted that treatment is showing "double-digit" increases, driven by recent standout introductions.

He cited Shiseido's new Bio-Performance, which contains antioxidants, as a strong performer, as well as the company's Body Contouring Gel and Body Exfoliator.

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