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U.S. Prestige Beauty Sales Dip 14 Percent in Q1

Beauty sales slowed when stores closed, but online sales are picking up.

The coronavirus has hit U.S. prestige beauty sales, which were down 14 percent for the first quarter of the year versus the prior-year period, data from The NPD Group show.

U.S. prestige beauty sales totaled $3.6 billion for the first quarter, according to NPD, reflecting store closures across the U.S. Online sales increased 24 percent in that period, accounting for less than 25 percent of volume in January and February, and 48 percent of sales in March.

Makeup was down 22 percent, to $1.4 billion; skin-care sales were down 8 percent, to $1.3 billion, fragrance sales were down 13 percent, to $655.3 million, and hair-care sales were up 13 percent, to $199.1 million.

Online, makeup was up 18 percent, skin care was up 27 percent, fragrance was up 19 percent, and hair was up 41 percent, compared with dot-com sales from 2019, NPD said.

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The numbers reflect a shift to self-care. Home scents were up 4 percent, driven by candles and diffusers, and nail care was up 9 percent. Body-skin-care products were up, with body serum gaining 32 percent, body oil gaining 10 percent and deodorant gaining 3 percent.

Hand soap, up 73 percent, and hair color, up 82 percent, were the clear front-runners.

Hair — the only category posting year-over-year gains — also saw increases in shampoo and conditioner sales, up 16 percent, and hair masks, up 32 percent. Styling products declined.

“Despite a strong start to the year across most categories, the prestige beauty industry was not immune to the steep March losses seen across retail. Self-care and at-home beauty treatments are where the growth is for the beauty market at this moment, as consumers have no choice but to take beauty services into their own hands. In March, consumers began putting an ever greater focus on their skin and hair care, as applying makeup and wearing fragrance have lost importance during quarantine,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry adviser for NPD.

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