COVID-19 restrictions hit prestige beauty market with 24% sales slump

Skincare, beauty

UK sales of premium-priced “prestige” beauty products fell by 24% to £2bn last year, as Covid-19 restrictions forced the intermittent closure of bricks and mortar stores across the country, new research from The NPD Group has revealed.

Sales of prestige beauty products in physical stores declined by 44% to just over £1.1bn, with make-up the worst-hit category, as consumers were forced to “stay at home,” the findings revealed.

However, the shift in buying habits gave rise to a 47% jump in prestige beauty sales online, up to more than £875m.

Skincare was the most resilient category during the first lockdown, with sales of anti-acne serums in particular, having increased by 51% in value in 2020 – fuelled by the new requirement for face-coverings, which created additional skincare  needs, the report said.

Sales of prestige hand soaps also grew by 38% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Despite a 17% fall in overall sales, fragrance also emerged as one of the best performing categories in prestige beauty in 2020.

The first lockdown had the most negative impact on sales in the fragrance market, with 50% of the year’s total losses having occurred between April and June.

However, the market showed “promising signs” of recovery later in the year, performing positively in November and growing by 2%, the report added.

In-fact, sales between October and December 2020 accounted for 57% of full year sales, as shoppers turned to fragrance for festive gifting.

The prestige bodycare market also grew its share in 2020, due to the growing popularity of body creams, lotions and sprays, as consumers turned to spa-at-home routines.

Make-up was the most challenged category in 2020, declining by 40% compared to 2019, as remote-working and restrictions on social gatherings saw demand plummet.

Sales of lip make-up alone plunged 50%, following the mandate on face-coverings in public places.

NPD UK Beauty account manager Emma Fishwick said: “The UK’s prestige beauty industry has been hugely challenged in 2020, however brands and retailers remain resilient and the trends we witnessed in previous years have accelerated during the pandemic.

“This includes the growth of online sales, the importance of a multi-channel retail approach, and the influence of social media on a consumers path to purchase,” she added.