MAKEUP OVERSHADOWED IN SOFT MIDWEST

Byline: SOPHY FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL

CHICAGO--Sales of color cosmetics have been overshadowed by the booming success of the treatment category, according to Midwest retailers.
Year-to-date sales ranged from flat to mid-single-digit percentage increases, although most stores said they expected business to pick up in the fall, when women tend to wear more makeup as the weather cools down.
Top trends in color ranged from frosted looks to matte browns, with lips and eyes getting more attention, and stores noted women are becoming more willing to experiment as they tire of the natural look.
According to Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager at Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's, few clear trends are emerging in this season's makeup.
"We're looking for a rocket, and we're not finding it," he said. "There's so much happening in all the other categories they have really stolen the show from color."
The color business at the Minneapolis-based department-store chain is ahead by a single-digit percentage, Burke said. He expects business to continue to show a small increase for the remainder of the year.
Burke noted a trend toward more coverage in foundation, and said customers are also paying more attention to lips and eyes, with the key trend in lip color being toward reddish-browns.
Best-selling lines at DH & Field's, in no particular order, are Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme, Prescriptives, Chanel, Christian Dior and Origins, he said.
Burke also noted a tendency for manufacturers to cut back the number of color launches. For example, Prescriptives will have one color launch for the year, called Color 95.
DH & Field's will also be launching Chanel's Eye essentials--a trio of liner, shadow and mascara--and a new mascara from Lancôme, Burke said.
At Halls Merchandising Inc., Kansas City, sales of color cosmetics are on plan and even with last year, according to Cheryl Holland, vice president and merchandise manager. She said the store is predicting increases of about 10 percent through the fall.
The Crown Center Halls was being renovated this spring, which explains the lower plan, she said.
Hot makeup trends at Halls's are lip gloss, frosted lipstick and eyeshadows and neutral colors with silver accents, Holland noted. "It's all very summery to go with the ready-to-wear trends," she said, adding that most of the business has been item-driven or impulse purchases.
The top performing color category at Halls's has been waterproof items for eyes, Holland said.
"Customers are tired of having their eye makeup smudge, and if there's a claim by a reliable vendor that it won't, then they'll give it a try," she said.
Bestsellers at Halls are Chanel's Aqua Stick, Lancôme's Summer Exposé and Givenchy's waterproof eye pencils, and Teint Voyage tinted moisturizer, Holland said.
For launches, the lips have it at Halls, with the most successful new products hitting the counter being Lancôme's new lip gloss and Prescriptives' Extraordinary Lips, a long-lasting lipstick.
Coming up for fall are Chanel's Eye Blush and Givenchy's Blush Prism. Prescriptives' Color 95 just hit the store and was selling very well, Holland said.
At Carson, Pirie, Scott, based in Milwaukee, the color cosmetics business has been flat so far this year, with single-digit increases planned for the fall, according to divisional merchandise manager Nancy Schmidt and Jill Radi, assistant buyer, women's makeup and treatment.
Schmidt noted that the big manufacturers had been focusing most of their energy on treatment rather than color.
Carson's launched Lancôme's fall colors in August and has also been doing very well with Lauder's Compact Finish makeup, a foundation which can be used wet or dry, which it launched in January.
The top-selling color lines at Carson's are Lancôme, Lauder, Clinique and Elizabeth Arden, Schmidt said. Mascara sales have been particularly strong, with Lancôme's Definicils and Carecils, Lauder's More Than Mascara and Ultima II's Falsies doing well, Radi said.
Customers are showing a greater willingness to experiment with color, especially on their lips, she noted, saying, "There's no fear in color any more."

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