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Beauty Roundup: September 9, 2011

Stores are starting to already get a few holiday trimmings, including some holiday gift sets. And it isn't even Halloween yet!

Following in the footsteps on Kmart, Wal-Mart announced it is bringing back a layaway program. Wal-Mart realizes shoppers want to buy but appreciate having a chance to pay a little at a time rather than charging for gifts.

At the same time, stores are starting to already get a few holiday trimmings, including some holiday gift sets. And it isn’t even Halloween yet! The trend is being called the Christmas Creep in retail circles, and it is spreading faster this year than the past five. Retailers said there are myriad reasons why Christmas is coming earlier than ever—many revolve around sluggish sales and a need to be top of consumers’ minds when it comes to buying gifts.

Here’s the good news for beauty: Demand is strong, portending a better-than-expected Yule. Executives at Almar, a company that supplies many gift sets to retailers, are seeing more interest, especially in nails as a gift rather than just self-purchase. At Red Carpet Manicure, the sentiments are the same—the hope is people will buy the at-home gel product as a gift. Buyers said they would look for categories to compensate for slower fragrance sales. That is putting a focus on nail, bath and body.

Mass market retailers expect to promote holiday in some novel ways this year. First and foremost will be customized mailings for members of loyalty programs. CVS has a kiosk where its members can go to after entering a store for a daily coupon. Olay was recently featured and holiday items will be included shortly.

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Clubs in particular are out of the gates early. Sam’s Club has lights and wrapping paper out already and some beauty sets. Sam’s will be fully stocked by early October. Target, Kmart and Sears are putting out holiday merchandise over the next two weeks. Retailers said they plan to put a big beauty emphasis behind Halloween with fake nails and lashes, but will bypass promoting Thanksgiving from a beauty standpoint to hop right on Christmas.

With many shoppers looking for more with less money, merchants said they want their wares out early. Customers might want to spread out their buying and start earlier, said Erin Armendinger, managing director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. And, if retailers move the merchandise out early, they might face fewer returns or clearance sales.

Is there a downside to putting out the decorations too early? The only negativity is that shoppers often complain. They remark that Christmas is presented too early. However, it doesn’t appear to have any backlash on buying patterns. There are those who like to buy early, and there will always be procrastinators.

After the holiday, the creativity won’t stop. Wal-Mart will use the day after Christmas to launch its Skinnygirl skin care. Leave it to Wal-Mart to find a way to make an event out of the after-Christmas rush.

People, Places and Things

A few words with celebrity manicurist Elle. Elle was discovered by Jennifer Lopez and is currently working the fashion shows for essie. She also helped launch the Red Manicure new gel at-home line this week in New York where she talked about trends.

WWDBeautyNews: What colors are popular now?

Elle: WWDBeautyNews: What colors are popular now? Elle: I think what’s interesting is it seems people know what to pick for themselves right now. There are some beautiful sheers and neutrals that are popular now. You can’t go wrong with nice, clean nails. But we also see reverse French manicures and nail art being popular. There’s also so much going on with structure such as The Stiletto.


WWDBeautyNews: What are other big trends?


Elle:  There are certainly more things people can do at home. There are kits in drugstores, including nail art pens and now gel nail manicures. While I hope women will also like a salon nail service, it is nice to know there are less expensive options that are easy to do. 

What’s in Store

Target’s Missoni Store: Customers waited in lines that stretched for blocks to see the new Target Missoni pop-up store in Manhattan. Merchandise, including some beauty, hits stores Tuesday.


Cutting Prices Not Always the Best Move: “While most retailers and manufacturers will instinctively pull the lever to compete on price, it’s important to understand that consistently leading with price has significant negative impacts on brand equity,” SymphonyIRI SVP marketing John McIndoe said in regard to new research from SymphonyIRI. “Rather, CPG leaders must harness the power of value. The battle for the shopper’s loyalty should not be dictated by low price, and winning CPG marketers are clearly getting this message.”