How luxury beauty categories actually performed in 2020

By Sarah Parsons 12-Feb-2021

Across the entire premium cosmetics industry sales declined in the UK, but who was the surprise victor?

The demand for luxury beauty products plummeted in 2020, a new report by market researcher The NPD Group has revealed, as sales dropped by 24% in Britain due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Sales of prestige beauty products in brick-and-mortar stores declined 44% last year when stores were forced to close due to government restrictions.

Unsurprisingly, online sales for premium cosmetics soared by 47% in 2020.

Fragrance was one of the best performing categories in prestige beauty, with a decline of 17%, followed by skin care (-21%) and make-up (-40%).

A similar trend was seen in the US, as make-up sales were down (-34%) for the year followed by skin care (-11%) and fragrance (-8%).

In UK-based skin care, sales of anti-acne serums increased by 51% last year, as mask wearing created new needs following concerns over 'maskne', and sales of prestige hand soaps grew 38%.

Following the #selfcare trend, prestige body care gained more than 1% of market share as consumers turned to at-home spa routines.

As previously reported, make-up faced the biggest battle in luxury cosmetics with consumers opting for a bare face due to remote working and reduced social life. Lipstick sales declined by 50%.

Emma Fishwick, Account Manager at NPD UK Beauty, 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.

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"This includes the growth of online sales, the importance of a multi-channel retail approach, and the influence of social media on a consumer's path to purchase.”