By  on July 8, 2009

Overall sales of prestige fragrances may be down in U.S. department stores but sales of high-priced scents were up by double digits in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period a year ago, according to The NPD Group Inc.

During the first quarter, single fragrances priced at $100 and above accounted for 9 percent of total sales in the fragrance market, or $26 million, an increase of 10 percent from the first quarter of 2008, the firm stated.

Expensive makeup has also done well, while sales of high priced skin care products have faltered, according to NPD.

In makeup, sales of products priced at $50 and above have almost doubled in the past three years. These face makeup products accounted for 6 percent of sales during the first quarter. Since the first quarter of 2006, sales of high-priced face makeup jumped from $14.1 million to $27.1 million.

“The growth in premium fragrance and makeup, while smaller segments compared to premium skin care, is driven by the fact that these products are still perceived as more niche and unique to the prestige arena,” said Karen Grant, senior global industry analyst and vice president of beauty for NPD.

When it comes to premium-priced facial skin care products, or those priced at $70 and above — a category believed to be recession proof, the firm stated — sales declined by 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The trend continued in the first quarter of 2009, when sales of facial skin care products were down by 7 percent.

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