Sales of U.S. prestige beauty products in the first quarter of 2021 rose 11 percent to $4.2 billion, said The NPD Group. During the quarter, sales of hair products soared 48 percent to $300 million and sales of fragrance grew 45 percent to $953 million versus one year ago, showing the impact 2020’s first quarter COVID-19 retail lockdown had on certain industry segments, which is now experiencing looser restrictions. Sales of skin care grew 12 percent to $1.4 billion, while makeup sales dipped nine percent to $1.5 billion.
As U.S. consumers hit the one-year anniversary of retail shutdowns, online sales within the prestige beauty segment remained strong, up 33 percent in the first quarter ended March 31. At the same time, brick-and-mortar sales are making ground, up 3 percent year over year, driven in large part by double-digit growth in fragrance and hair sales.
NPD pointed to consumers’ shift to self-care as one of the primary takeaways for the prestige beauty industry during the past year. Even as the vaccine rollout gained momentum in the first quarter of 2021, consumers continued to prioritize DIY home treatments as evidenced by double and triple-digit gains of hair masks, both facial and body serums, nail care, and candles.
Valentine’s Day drove strong performance in the fragrance segment: fragrance sets with a free gift and perfumes were both up triple-digits, with sales for both increasing sharply in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Consumers appear to be readying their skin for more time outside, as facial exfoliators, body exfoliators, and sun care were all up year-over-year.
Not surprisingly, as most consumers have been conditioned to wash their hands thoroughly at many points throughout the day, hand soaps continue to be a popular seller in the skincare segment with sales more than doubling year over year.
While total makeup sales are down 9 percent, the category is making up ground as consumers begin to return to social settings. Makeup highlighters were up 12 percent year over year, and bronzer was up 2 percent. Eye products continue to outperform the category, as they are not covered by protective face masks, with gains in mascara, eyebrow makeup, false eyelashes, and eye applicators.
“Strong growth across most categories is being fueled by the anniversary of sales during a period of lockdown in March. This will accelerate over the next quarter before somewhat stabilizing over the latter half of the year. The positive news is that fragrance, skin care, and hair posted growth against 2019, a more accurate representation of industry sales. A reenergized consumer has emerged, fueled by the optimism of warming temperatures, lower case counts, and widespread vaccinations providing the promise of a return to normalcy,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor, The NPD Group.