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Published
Nov 19, 2020
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UK prestige beauty sales up 38% online, skincare is strong

Published
Nov 19, 2020

The shift online may have presented challenges to some fashion and beauty categories, but UK prestige beauty (and especially skincare) has prospered as shopping went online during lockdowns, a new report shows.


Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Public domain


NPD Group said the online prestige beauty market (including skincare, body care, make-up, fragrance and men’s grooming) reported sales of over £491 million from January to the end of October, an increase of 38% year-on-year.  

It meant e-commerce accounted for 41% of total prestige beauty sales in the period, up from to 21% a year ago as lockdowns took their toll on physical store sales.

NPD said brands and e-tailers were quick to respond to lockdown with many providing online incentives such as free delivery, gifts with purchase, price promotions, online tutorials and virtual try-on tech.

That was hugely important to the sector as a whole. Although many stores selling beauty products were allowed to stay open during the lockdown, this didn’t mean that prestige beauty was able to continue with business as usual. Stores like supermarkets that stayed open were focused on cheaper brands and own-labels, while pharmacies that usually sell upscale lines focused on their health products instead. Meanwhile department stores and specialist perfumery/beauty chains were shut.

But webstores were quickly able to step in to fill the gap their closure left, although buying habits shifted as the types of products consumers ordered reflected their stuck-at-home circumstances.

NPD said sales of skincare online reported the largest growth in the prestige beauty market. Skincare sales increased 54% in the period with face creams up 67%, face cleansers up 66% and serums up 32%. Sets and kits were also key contributors to skincare’s growth online, increasing 57%.  

Those increases were recorded as consumers focused on healthy skin and pampering, rather than colour cosmetics.

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