Sales of prestige fragrances were less impacted by the closure of beauty salons, perfumeries, and department stores than sales of prestige skincare and makeup, reports The NPD Group. With a turnover of 1.21 billion euros between January and the end of October 2020, the prestige fragrance market recorded a drop of 18% in value in France compared to the same period in 2019. A significant drop but lower than that of the overall prestige beauty market (-22%).

Despite two compulsory lockdowns, French women did not give up their favourite fragrances as much as one might fear. However, prestige make-up and skin and body care products showed less resilience.

Strong increase in online sales

According to The NPD Group, online stores have clearly driven sales in the fragrance category, this channel representing 13% of overall sales made between January and the end of October (compared to 7% in 2019).

Over the first ten months of the year, online sales of high-end fragrances climbed 41%, a much stronger performance than the overall online prestige beauty market (+34%). Furthermore, online sales of have accelerated their growth at the end of the first lockdown. From August to October 2020, they grew by 46% in value, confirming increased consumer confidence when it is about to buy their favourite scent online. Perfume gift sets were particularly popular with the French with sales increasing by 98% compared to the same period a year earlier.

During the recent months, brands and retailers have demonstrated their ability to adapt very fast and with agility by offering new ways to test perfumes at home and by developing online or phone advice, click-and-collect and live streaming solutions. Consumers are discovering new ways to shop, their habits are changing and we anticipate good performance in online sales during the 2020 holiday season, a trend that will continue in 2021,” comments Mathilde Lion, Beauty Expert Europe at The NPD Group.

Drop in store visits

Despite new services and the implementation of stringent sanitary measures, sales in brick-and-mortar stores were strongly impacted between August and October 2020, with a drop in sales of -9% compared to the same period in 2019.