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U.S. Prestige Beauty Sales Drop 36 Percent in Q2

Data from The NPD Group shows an unprecedented tumble in sales, but with signs of consumer interest in unexpected categories.

Lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic caused a massive decline in prestige beauty sales in the U.S. during the second quarter, new data from The NPD Group shows.

Sales came in at $2.8 billion, a 36 percent drop from the second quarter of 2019. “We’ve seen segments and subsegments decline, but not at the total industry level,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry adviser for NPD. Taking the hardest hits were makeup and fragrance, with each respectively declining 52 and 37 percent. With brick-and-mortar closed, online sales lessened the blow, growing more than 90 percent over the quarter, accounting for 61 percent of industry sales volume and making up 70 percent of market share.The skin-care category had the most sales, with $1.1 billion in the quarter, an 18 percent decrease from the same period last year. 

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Hair care took the smallest blow, falling 10 percent year-over-year with $197.2 million in sales. The push for at-home self-care and do-it-yourself spa environments drove the category, with hair treatments seeing 30 percent growth.

Similarly, other segments related to the DIY trend saw boosts across categories, such as nail care, which was up 29 percent; body and facial devices, which were up 16 percent, and body exfoliators, which were up 15 percent. Candles were up 13 percent, and home ancillary gift sets were up 88 percent.

Home fragrances weren’t the only segments in fragrance to see bumps. Week-over-week, holidays in May and June propped up personal fragrance sales. The week of Mother’s Day, women’s fragrance surged with 96 percent growth. Men’s fragrance also increased 117 percent the week of Father’s Day. Consumers prioritized concentrated formats, such as “parfum” and “eau de parfum,” which resulted in $586.2 million in sales for the category overall.

Makeup took the deepest fall, with $869.0 million in sales, a 52 percent decline year-over-year. In May and June, a bright spot included eye makeup, which was up 6 percent, because of false eyelashes, brow products, eyeliner and mascara.

Jensen sees the swing to fragrances and makeup later on in the quarter as a sign of life for the category. “April, for the most part, was all shut down across the country. It was the toughest month across every category in beauty,” she said. “We did go from a very skin-care-centric mind-set; there were weeks when skin care was half of all industry sales. As we came out [of lockdown], we started to see the shift more toward makeup and fragrance.”

Another marked shift over the quarter was the pivot to clinical skin care. Jensen said the top brand type for the category was clinical skin care, despite consumers’ penchant for clean beauty. In 2019, the top brand type was natural skin care.

What this means for the third quarter and the holiday season, however, depends on the fluctuations in store openings. “Our recovery is going to be slower and longer than an entire country, like France, that’s open,” Jensen said. “At points, there are signs of consumer interest in the categories, there’s just a lot of concern about going back out. If we’re still in a position where brick-and-mortar is still closed, or consumers are not going out to stores, there may be challenges.”

For more from, see:

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