LOS ANGELES--Despite the state's lingering recession, California retailers said they have been ringing up consistent gains in the treatment category. Store executives reported that skin care sales for the first half of this year have been 7 percent or more ahead of last year, and the merchants expect to finish the year at least 10 percent ahead of 1993. "Alpha-hydroxy products are still the leaders," said Margo Scavarda, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of cosmetics at The Broadway, based here. "It's become part of the regimen," she added. "The products have to be working, because customers are coming in and replenishing their supply." Treatment sales at The Broadway have been growing by more than 10 percent so far this year, Scavarda said, noting that she expects the growth rate to continue throughout the year. The top skin care lines at The Broadway include Elizabeth Arden, Shiseido, Lancome, EstÄe Lauder and Clinique, she said. Scavarda said the store is in a unique position to post healthy gains of at least 10 percent in all cosmetics categories because the department has benefited from chief executive officer David Dworkin's space reallotment. "There's a great opportunity for us," Scavarda said. "In some stores we've doubled the space for cosmetics, and results have been fantastic. I'm looking forward to double-digit increases indefinitely because of these changes." At Gottschalks, a 27-unit department store chain based in Fresno, Calif., sales of treatment products through the end of May were 10 percent ahead of the same period last year, according to Robert Wiser, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories. He predicted the skin care category would finish 1994 with a 10 percent gain over last year. Treatment is the second fastest-growing classification within cosmetics, behind fragrance and ahead of color, Wiser said, noting that sales at Gottschalks have been led by the heavy hitters, Clinique's Turnaround Cream and Lauder's Fruition. Other acid-based items that have performed well include Lancome's Bienfait Total and Elizabeth Arden's Alpha-Ceramide. Lauder's Resilience moisturizer has also been a standout. In the body treatment category, Svelte by Christian Dior, which promises to reduce the appearance of cellulite, has been a bestseller. Wiser said consumers believe in the fruit acid products and have not expressed concerns about their safety and possible side effects. "We've had a few questions [about safety], but most people are not worried about the products," he said. "The reason is they've bought it and it works." While the major products such as Turnaround Cream and Fruition are generating a sizable amount of treatment volume at Gottschalks, consumers have been willing to look at the treatment counter and consider other products as well, Wiser said. The men's treatment business also is posting strong gains at Gottschalks. Wiser noted that Clinique's Turnaround Lotion and Lift-Off from Aramis are generating considerable interest among male consumers. At I. Magnin, the San Francisco-based 13-unit division of R.H. Macy & Co., treatment sales for the first half of the year were 7 percent ahead of last year, according to Joseph Cicio, who at the time of this story was chairman and chief executive officer. He has since resigned. He said he expected the category to finish the year 7 to 10 percent ahead of 1993. The top five treatment lines at I. Magnin, in order, are Alexandra de Markoff, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Lancome and La Prairie. Recent launches that have proven strong for I. Magnin include DeMarkoff's Vital 10, La Prairie's Time Management Lotion, Chanel Lift Serum ExtrÅme, Erno Laszlo's AHa Revitalizing Complex and Bienfait Total. Fruit acid products continue to be strong items for the store, and customers are asking for and buying products with higher concentrations of the exfoliating acids, Cicio said. Special care products in the fruit acid family formulated specifically for use around the eyes and lips and on the hands are also popular, he noted.
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