The total beauty category in U.S. department stores chalked up an 11 percent sales gain for 2011, over 2010, according to The NPD Group, which held its annual Hot Off the Press business briefing for the beauty industry on Tuesday morning at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel.

“In the U.S., U.K. and China, prestige beauty is enjoying one of the most robust sales periods ever,” said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst at NPD. “In the U.S., for example, the U.S. beauty sales in both the mass and prestige channels were positive month after month in 2011. And while both channels were positive, prestige beauty reigned supreme. From the stellar increases in prestige skin care to the continued gains in makeup to the double-digit rebound of fragrance, prestige beauty is experiencing a time of unprecedented growth.”

In U.S. department stores, skin care and fragrance both achieved double-digit dollar growth rates of 14 and 11 percent, respectively, during 2011. Makeup grew 9 percent, compared with 2010.

“In continental Europe, where the prestige market is more mature,” Grant continued, “growth is more tempered, and performances among the categories has not been as dynamic as in the U.S. or U.K., but nonetheless, prestige beauty managed to flourish, thanks to brand media investment, bigger in-store animation and price promotions.”


The 11 percent gain in the U.S. prestige market compares with a 3 percent gain in the select market of France, a 9 percent increase in the U.K., a bare 1 percent rise in Italy, a minus 1 percent dip in Spain, a 22 percent jump in China, a strong 15 percent gain in Mexico and a dramatic 33 percent increase in Argentina. Grant also analyzed the mass market, noting that “the U.S. food, drug and mass channel experienced a 4 percent increase in sales for total beauty in 2011. Makeup sales posted the biggest increase at 8 percent, followed by skin care at 3 percent, while fragrance sales declined 5 percent in dollar terms, compared with 2010. In national chain stores, fragrance sales grew 5 percent.”

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