According to The NPD Group, sales of prestige beauty products fell by 20% in France in 2020, under the impact of restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Brick and mortar prestige beauty stores (perfumeries, department stores) recorded a 26% drop in sales. The main reasons are: three months of compulsory closure, curfews and travel restrictions. Of course, consumers often turned to e-commerce over the period. As a result, sales of prestige beauty products in the online channel rose 52% and e-commerce now account for 16% of prestige beauty sales in France (vs. 8% in 2019) However, the shift did not compensate all the losses of physical stores. According to The NPD Group it absorbed only 18% of the loss.

Fragrance proved quite resilient

In December, The NPD Group had already noted the resistance of the perfume category between January and the end of October 2020. Despite the second lockdown in November, the end of year celebrations boosted the category, with a 17% increase in perfume sales between November 30 and December 27, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, confirming how much prestige fragrances remain a popular Christmas gift in France. As a result, sales of prestige fragrances dropped 15% in 2020.

Face and body care

For its part, the skincare category has experienced contrasting developments. The facials segment fell 25% in 2020. However, sales of acne and blemish products jumped 32% in value, in response to the new needs created by wearing masks.

In contrast, prestige body care products gained over 1% market share, driven by the popularity of creams, lotions, and other body sprays used by consumers in their home spa routine.

Make-up crash

The makeup category suffered the most in 2020, with a drop of 35% compared to 2019. The reduction of social interactions, linked to the rise of teleworking and the growing popularity of the nude trend both contributed to lower the demand. The need to wear facial covering also had a huge impact on certain products. Sales of lipsticks, for instance, fell by 53%.

Hair care on the rise

In contrast to the general trend, the prestige haircare category recorded impressive growth in 2020, with sales rising 27%. However, this category is underdeveloped in the selective channel and sales are mostly made online (59%) where the offer is larger than in brick-and-mortar stores.

This unprecedented decline is confirmed by Procos, the French federation of specialized retailers, whose panel recorded an 18% drop of beauty & health retails in 2020. For its part, the LVMH group announced a 22% drop in sales of its perfumes and cosmetics business.

This situation could lead to a rapid repositioning of the major distribution chains. Germany-based retailer Douglas, for instance, announced its decision to close 62 stores in France, and around 500 in Europe, out of a total of 2,400 stores, in order to focus investments on digital sales.