SURVEYING THE SECOND HALF

NEW YORK — In terms of newness, this could be a record fall. Does anyone recall a season with so many new products? It’s not just in the fragrance category — although dozens of new scents will begin hitting shelves next month. There are thousands of new cosmetics and skin care items, not to mention all the new brands getting ready to plunge into that big pool known as the beauty business.
“It seems that everybody in the world wants to get into the beauty business,” said Scarlett Messina, owner of the Scarlett beauty boutique in New Hope, Penn.
According to the interviews conducted for this forecast issue, many in the industry believe this could translate into robust sales. Daniel Brestle, president of Estee Lauder USA & Canada, foresees a fall that will be “as competitive as I’ve seen it.” But he was quick to add that he is more optimistic than he has been in a while.
Also positive about the months ahead was Rita Mangan, senior vice president of cosmetics and fragrances at Federated Merchandising. “The fragrance business has definitely turned around,” she noted.
There is some concern about the weak total store business this spring and how that will translate into the fall. Weak ready-to-wear meant dwindling traffic, which affected beauty sales.
As for the mass market, cosmetics sales have been up, but primarily driven by growth in the foundation segment. Retailers and manufacturers agree that color needs a boost.
According to Information Resources Inc., cosmetics sales — excluding the nail segment — rose 10.5 percent to $2.8 billion for the 52 weeks ended May 21, while unit volume grew 6.7 percent. Nail polish fell 7.3 percent to $425.7 million, with unit sales down 10.4 percent.
“The color business is a little bit in the doldrums, but we are optimistic, said William McMenemy, executive vice president, marketing at Del Labs. “We are trying to do things to jump-start it.”
Some e-tailers might be less enthusiastic about the coming months. Competition will only intensify among the cyber set, especially with the specter of Estee Lauder’s Gloss hanging overhead.
Whatever happens this fall, it won’t be dull.
“It’s an incredibly interesting time to be in the beauty business,” commented Robin Coe-Hutshing, the owner of Fred Segal Essentials in Santa Monica. “I’m glad to have a front-row seat.”

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