Emma Fishwick NPD UK Senior Account Manager

Do you remember the time when you could walk into a Beauty Hall and be overwhelmed by the different aromas and scents that would often trigger a rush of long-lost memories? Or perhaps after having trialled 20 different eyeshadow swatches side by side on your left arm, and 20 different lip stick shades on your right in the pursuit to find your perfect shade, you’ve returned home from shopping resembling Joseph and his amazing technicoloured dreamcoat. Alternatively, a welcoming sales assistant might have enticed you to sit in their chair and persuade you that in addition to the foundation that you initially came into store to purchase, you will also need the 3-step skincare routine to prep the skin, as well as the primer, concealer, and bronzer that will complement the foundation perfectly. These are just a few of the reasons why purchasing prestige beauty products within bricks and mortar is such a special and unique experience.

Non-essential retail in England opened from 12th April, and if we compare the overall performance this year vs. last year (of the equivalent week ending 17th April), value sales are up +230% vs. 2020, and flat (-1%) vs. 2019. Yes, prestige beauty is back!

Beauty application encourages self-expression, yet a high proportion of the population have been sheltering (on and off) at home for over a year, doing the bare minimum in terms of grooming. This led to our pre-pandemic staple products having to take a back seat.

But hospitality and social events are restarting; and there is a desire by many to emerge from lockdown looking and feeling their best, even dressing up and spending money on themselves. For example, for the week ending 17th April, we saw a surge in sales of “DIY Beauty Products” as well as sales for false lashes and eyebrow makeup, which increased 24% and 39%, respectively vs. 2019.

There is no denying that, like many industries, the prestige beauty industry has suffered as a result of the pandemic; and there have been casualties along the way. We have witnessed Beauty Hall Icons such as Debenhams calling in the administrators and re-opening their physical stores on 12th April only to sell off old stock at a fraction of the original price. Some brands have chosen to reopen without product or testers on their counters as the health and safety of consumers and beauty consultants remains paramount. But the beauty consultants are in store now, available, and happy to support in sharing their wellspring of knowledge. Brands, retailers and beauty consultants have missed the face-to-face interactions with consumers; but speaking personally and on behalf of most UK Consumers, we have missed you more!