Last year, says Jensen, after many months of positive dollar growth, the holiday season bucked the trend and paved the way for a slowdown across every beauty category in 2019 – with overall beauty sales up only 1% year-to-date through September.
“While we didn’t exactly hit rock bottom during the holidays last year, things can only improve from here,” says Jensen. “Several indicators are already moving us in that direction. First, we have barely dipped a toe in November, but holiday is out in full force in stores, enticing early shoppers. Second, the weather has started to cooperate, bringing in colder temperatures across most of the U.S. – a surefire way to get consumers into the holiday spirit. Third, December will be a stronger month. I anticipate a more solid performance during the last few weeks of 2019, with Cyber Monday landing in December once again (in 2018, it fell in November).”
What beauty products will consumers buy? Jensen says value will be a key driver. She predicts that hot holiday items in beauty will include makeup minis, skincare sets, and new fragrance launches, which are always crowd favorites this time of year. Minis perform well in makeup, as these smaller-sized products offer consumers a more enticing price-point in which to try prestige products – not to mention their fun, seasonal packaging also make for great stocking stuffers. In skincare, sets are poised to grow as consumers look for discounts through bundles and an opportunity to self-gift. There are some attractive women’s fragrance launches on the horizon, which will likely boost fragrance’s critical Q4 results. Stronger concentrations like eau de parfum are expected to lead in men’s fragrance, coinciding with the male consumers’ growing desire for longer-lasting scents. In terms of new things to expect for 2019, there will likely be a surge in sales of products containing CBD, specifically in skincare, which have been on a hot streak all year long.
Something to keep in mind heading into the season, says Jensen, is that Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday this year. Last minute holiday shoppers may wait for the weekday instead of the weekend, which could affect overall sales volumes. Maintaining a strong merchandise assortment into the final shopping days of Christmas week will be critical to capturing the dollars of the infamous holiday procrastinator.
Jensen concludes: “The promising news is that if past years are any indicator, beauty’s holiday sales performance will be stronger, paving the way for a healthier 2020.”