MILAN — A cautious optimism is running through the Italian beauty industry, as sales of local companies are rebounding after the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Boosted by the effective vaccination program in the country, which prevented any closure in the second half of the year, the industry’s performance is expected to register a double digit growth this year, but it won’t fully return to pre-COVID-19 levels just yet.
According to projections released by the national association of beauty companies Cosmetica Italia, total sales will grow 10.4 percent to 11.7 billion euros in 2021. Last year, total revenues were down 12 percent to 10.6 billion euros compared to 2019, when sales reached 12 billion euros.
The rebound of exports had a key role in outlining the encouraging scenario. In the first half of 2021, exports of Italian cosmetics goods increased in all the top 10 destinations — led by France, Germany and the U.S., where they grew 6.6 percent, 11.4 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year — with the exception of the U.K., where Brexit hampered business. Overall, Italian beauty exports are expected to grow 14 percent to 4.7 billion euros in 2021.
The renewal of international demand has particularly propelled the revenues of Italian supply companies, whose sales are slated to grow 20 percent to reach 2 billion euros in 2021, therefore fully making up for last year’s losses.
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In general, the country’s beauty market is also expected to report a 8.5 percent increase to 10.6 billion euros this year, as all distribution channels showed signs of recovery. While online sales are to register the biggest growth with a 29.7 percent increase, in value they still represent a marginal slice of total sales, accounting for 900 million euros.
Able to operate with continuity during the pandemic, the mass market will retain its role as main distribution channel of beauty goods in the country, accounting for 42.5 percent out of total sales in 2021 and expected to grow 1.5 percent to 4.5 billion euros. It’s to be followed by pharmacies, where sales will be up 4 percent to 1.9 billion euros, and perfumeries, which will register over 22 percent increase to 1.8 billion euros compared to last year, when store closures significantly affected their performance.
Sales generated in professional hair and beauty salons will be up 14.8 percent to 520 million euros and 12.6 percent to 190 million euros, respectively, while herbalist shops will end the year with a 12.7 percent increase to 370 million euros.
“The cosmetics sector has always stood out for its acyclic nature and, even in this still uncertain macroeconomic scenario, has held up better than most of the manufacturing sectors, demonstrating a strong ability to react and stressing the positive response of this industry to [customers’] changed shopping and consumption behaviors,” said Cosmetica Italia’s president Renato Ancorotti commenting the figures.
An internal survey conducted among the association’s members confirmed the overall resilience, with 23.8 percent of interviewees stating the recovery has already occurred and almost 12 percent believing it is in progress in this second half of the year. Yet for over 52 percent of the companies, pre-pandemic performances will be fully restored in 2022.