After a rather positive growth in 2011 (+3% in value and +0.2% in volume), sales of cosmetics in the selective retail channel have experienced a difficult early year 2012, with a decrease of - 1.1% in value and -4.1% in volume, according to figures released by the French Federation of Selective Perfumery (FFPS) and NPD Group.

The decline of sales volume affects all operators: independent stores (-6.4%), department stores (-4.8%), and chain stores that managed to contain the drop (-3.6%) thanks to the small increase in the the number of outlets (+16 doors compared to the same period in 2011). In value, only department stores succeeded in posting a turnover increase (+0.2%), while both chain and independent stores receded (-1.6% and -0.6% respectively).

The situation is in contrast with the excellent results of the last half of 2011 and it concerns product categories that had previously helped to drive the market upward. For instance, perfume and makeup contribute to the overall downturn with a negative trend.

"As far as perfumes are concerned, all lights are red for the major category of the selective channel: -4% in volume and -1.6% in value, for women’s perfumes (-1.4% in value) as for men’s perfumes (-1.8% in value)," said the FFPS in a release.

Regarding make-up, the end of 2011’s growth was followed by an overall decline in the three segments: face (-3.4% in value), eyes (-3.7%) and lips (-3.7 %).

However, skin care products - that were lagging behind for several months - continue their slow recovery (+1.5% in value in Q1 2012, but -1.3% in volume).

For skin care products as for perfumes, sales of promotional packs, especially for men, have contributed to partially offset the losses. Sales of men’s skin care gift sets increased by 116.3% in value and 81% in volume and those for women 10.1% in value and 1.3% by volume.

After a great season period, the prestige beauty channel has been aligning itself, for the first quarter of 2012, on the overall decline of consumption. Valentine’s Day was particularly disappointing this year and it has fallen short of expectations, especially for the perfumes category. We therefore expect a lot from the two high peaks that are Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,” said Marie-Helene Morin, General Delegate of the FFPS.