Widespread lockdowns and retail restrictions led to steep declines in several key beauty categories including makeup (-33%), skincare (-9%) and fragrance (-7%). In 2020, the overall Canadian prestige beauty market declined by 17%, according to The NPD Group. 
Prestige hair care sales outpaced all other categories in 2020
A deeper look at the different product categories shows that despite its decline skincare maintained its standing as Canada’s number one category. Furthremore, while fragrance sales declined by -7% consumers spent +6% more on average compared to 2019 as they shifted their dollars towards stronger, more concentrated scents and the iconic designer brands and pillar brands they know and love. Furthermore, sales of fragrance home scents grew by +10% in 2020 as consumers searched for ways to incorporate luxury into their stay-at-home lifestyles.
Eventually, with its +33% growth, the hair care category was the fastest growing category across all the countries tracked by The NPD Group.
In brief, the top market share gainers for 2020 included hair products; fragrance eau de parfum and eau de toilette; face creams, serums, cleansers and exfoliators; body creams/lotions; candles and nail care.
Boom in online sales
As in most other markets, since brick-and-mortar stores were closed, a part of prestige beauty buyers switched their habits to purchase their favorite prestige products online. Online sales saw an increase of +56% in 2020 as the channel registered almost one third of all prestige beauty sales on the year compared to just 17% in 2019, found the market research firm.
First signs of recovery
While the last 12 months have been difficult, the Canadian beauty industry is beginning to show signs of growth. Year-over-year sales for the week ending March 13 increased by +3%, which was the first time the industry has seen a positive weekly sales increase since the week ending November 21. 
“As we head towards recovery, there is a great opportunity for brands and retailers to delight and surprise consumers and build loyalty both in-store and online,” said Alecsandra Hancas, Canadian Beauty Industry Analyst at The NPD Group. “Recovery will vary by category, and while Skincare and Fragrance have shown positive signs, there are bright spots even within the struggling makeup category. Lipstick, just like going out, will make a comeback and we can’t wait.”