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Hurricane Sandy Takes a Bite Out of Beauty’s Halloween

Beauty chain stores continued to cope with storm-related closings, and those that were open dealt with lost sales.

Hurricane Sandy took more than a bite out of the beauty world’s Halloween fun.

Beauty chain stores continued to cope with storm-related closings and those that were open dealt with lost sales.

Larger mass-market retailers estimated losses in Halloween candy sales running into in the low- to mid-millions. There was a slight rebound Tuesday after the worst of the weather hit.  Moreover, the rush for batteries, water and flashlights pushed  beauty buying further into the background. According to one buyer, people were only concerned about health, nudging hair, skin and cosmetics sales “way down.”

Still, beauty buyers and manufacturers said the bulk of the Halloween makeup, eyelashes, wigs and other merchandise had been purchased prior to last weekend since many adult parties were held then. “Most Halloween sales were captured already. We saw very strong sales leading up and through last weekend,” said Joey Shamah, chief executive officer of E.l.f. Cosmetics.

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Some beauty specialty chains endeavored to reopen shuttered stores. For MAC Cosmetics, four freestanding stores and one partner door below 34th Street remained closed on Wednesday afternoon. Although Bluemercury’s Union Square location, at 865 Broadway, was closed as of press time on Wednesday, the brand said it was hoping to reopen in short order. Aveda, whose downtown salon operates its Environmental Lifestyle Store on Spring Street, echoed other companies in saying, “we at Aveda are relieved to report that all employees in the Aveda family are safe. Some Aveda locations have lost power or been otherwise affected, though the extent of damages has not yet been established.” LUSH’s seven New York-area shops — including SoHo, Herald Square and Union Square — have been closed since Sunday night, with plans to reopen this coming weekend. Meanwhile, the British beauty brand’s New Jersey locations near the water — Atlantic City, Freehold and Newport — also remained closed, with no projected re-opening date at this time. Other closed LUSH locations include Chestnut Hill in Massachusetts and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Virginia.  As of Wednesday afternoon, CVS executives said less than 300 stores were closed.

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The positive momentum that was brewing before the storm for holiday could take a beating, some experts said. Burt Flickinger 3rd of Strategic Resource Group now thinks holiday sales will rise only 2.1 percent instead of his original 3.2 percent prediction and that merchants might lose at least $25 billion in sales this week. A beauty manufacturer summed it up: “We had hoped for lots of ‘pick-me-up’ beauty buys, but now if people spend on generators, they may sacrifice beauty products.” Several major beauty companies, primarily those based in New York such as Coty Inc., Maybelline and L’Oréal USA, were closed or opened with limited power on Wednesday after the storm.

Others, however, voiced confidence that the storm hit early enough in the month for the appetite for buying to return by Thanksgiving, without dampening the national mood heading into the holidays.

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