Buckle your seat belt; it’s time to get busy. The growth rate of prestige beauty market sales have been tapering in the U.S. since May and there’s a looming gap in the calendar ahead, with six missing shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the industry’s biggest headache in seven years.

What makes the calendar more worrisome is that there is a growing sense that consumer buying preferences may be undergoing a seismic shift. “The consumer is open to spending; she just doesn’t know if she is driven to spending it on beauty,” says Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at NPD Group. Grant, who has noticed a decided broadening of the beauty shopper’s scope of self indulgence into other categories, succinctly asks: “What is going to be the new shiny object?”

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