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A Beauty-full Holiday Season

Dec 14, 2017
Larissa Jensen, Executive Director, Industry Analyst ;
Beauty

Walking through the beauty departments of a wide variety of retailers this past week, I was overwhelmed by the choices available to me for gifting beauty. So many adorable options! Lip glosses, body lotions, candles, and so much more showcased in super fun, sparkly, and festive packaging. Even though my Christmas shopping was done, the temptation to buy one of these charming beauty gifts was near impossible to resist. But budgets being what they are, resist I did.

The temptation to buy beauty gifts--for ourselves or others--is one that many consumers are giving into in droves. While this holiday season has been somewhat of a disappointment for several industries thus far (including apparel, technology, sports and, yes, even the proverbial toy industry), beauty has stood out as a clear winner over the past few holiday weeks.

In fact, weekly sales of makeup, skincare, and fragrance in the U.S. have been consistently strong since NPD began tracking the 2017 holiday season in early November. While the first week of November started out slow, with a 3 percent gain for beauty, week 2 experienced a 15 percent increase and weeks 3 and 4 have seen beauty sales really take off, posting the strongest gains of all the industries NPD is tracking this holiday.

Digging deeper into the weeks, week 2 performance was driven by fragrance, specifically gift sets. Week 3 was strong for makeup and skincare sets. Fragrance overall was soft in performance week 3, but fragrance sets featuring home scents experienced a surge in sales. This is likely due to how these types of fragrance sets (typically candle and reed diffuser sets) are often merchandised and promoted in stores as popular hostess gifts as we head into the holiday party season. Speaking of holiday parties, lip gloss and false eyelashes – two beauty staples when glamming it up – were standout performers in week 3 as well. In week 4, which included Black Friday, beauty grew a staggering 17 percent, led by makeup, followed by skincare, and then fragrance.

As my holiday store tours this past week have revealed, it’s clear to see how this new beauty holiday pecking order has established itself. Makeup has proven itself to be a fun and relatively low cost, highly giftable category over the past few holiday seasons with 2017 being no exception. And with skincare increasingly front and center during holiday as well, it remains to be seen how fragrance will fare with the other beauty categories competing so strongly for its critical holiday dollars.

Regardless of how the remainder of the holiday season pans out for each of the individual categories (don’t count fragrance out yet!), it’s safe to say that beauty has been a standout industry in 2017 – for holiday and throughout the entire year. 


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