Pure Beauty

The beauty industry's winners and losers of post-lockdown (so far)

By Sarah Parsons | Published: 25-Aug-2021

Bricks-and-mortar has been one of the success stories for luxury cosmetic sales as people embrace the new normal with an increase in consumer confidence

Britain's beauty consumers are falling back in love with the high street, according to figures by market analysts The NPD Group.

As consumer confidence in bricks-and-mortar safety post-lockdown strengthened, in July, 64% of prestige cosmetic sales were from physical stores, reflecting the appetite to shop offline.

The overall prestige beauty industry is getting back on track, reported The NPD Group, as UK sales grew by 11% in the first half of 2021, despite the numerous stages of lockdown in Q1.

Last year, the demand for luxury beauty products plummeted, as sales dropped by 24% due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Make-up continues to be the most challenged division, with a decline of 6% in H1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 and down by 49% compared to 2019.

Online make-up sales increased by 8% versus 2020, meanwhile, tinted moisturisers bolstered the overall category.

Sales of the lightweight complexion base strengthened by 19%, as foundations declined by 11%.

Fragrance sales reflected the pivot in brand strategy from travel and physical retail to e-commerce with online educational content and sampling opportunities.

Online now makes up 42% of premium fragrance sales compared to just 18% in 2019, with the overall category growing by 25% in 2021.

Emma Fishwick, Account Manager at NPD UK Beauty, said: “The fragrance market benefited from the decline in travel overseas.

"Where consumers might have traditionally purchased their new or replenished their favourite fragrances in Duty Free, they have instead been buying locally and online.”

The boost in fragrance sales continues to make the category the top performing business within the prestige sector.

Despite a decline in 2020, perfumes was the strongest category, with a drop of 17%, followed by skin care (-21%) and make-up (-40%).

Sales of prestige skin care increased 7% from January to June 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

However, money worried consumers are favouring affordable products. While unit sales only declined by 1% versus pre-pandemic, skin care’s average sale price was down 15% compared to the same period in 2020.

Fishwick added: “The market is changing rapidly and both brands and retailers are responding to these fast-paced shifts with innovation and new digital technology, while still remaining focused on one-to-one experiences that connect the customer with the beauty consultant in-person, in-store.”

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