UK prestige beauty sales increase 38% online, survey finds


Online sales of beauty products provided a welcome boost to the UK prestige beauty market according to new findings from The NPD Group.

The prestige beauty market (including skin care, body care, make-up, fragrance and men's grooming) reported sales of over £491 million from January 2020 to the end of October 2020, an increase of 38% on the same period in 2019.

Ecommerce accounted for 41% of total prestige beauty sales in the period from January 2020 to the end of October 2020, compared to 21% of total beauty sales in the same period in 2019. This substantial shift in consumer behaviour is said to be driven by lockdown and the closure of bricks and mortar stores in the early part of 2020.

Emma Fishwick, Account Manager, NPD UK Beauty, explains: “Prestige beauty brands and online retailers were quick to respond to lockdown with many providing online incentives to purchase such as offering free delivery, gifts with purchase, price promotions, online tutorials and Virtual ‘Try On Services' to support shade matching from home.”

In April 2020, when all non-essential retail stores were closed, Ecommerce accounted for 94% of total prestige beauty sales. After retail stores reopened in June, online beauty retail continued to be popular with consumers. In August 2020, online sales accounted for 37% of the total market compared to August 2019 and in October 2020, this increased to 40% of the prestige beauty market as the UK adopted a regional lockdown approach.

The data also found that sales of prestige skin care online reported the largest growth in the prestige beauty market.

Skin care sales increased 54% in the period January 2020 to the end of October 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Within this sector, in the period from January 2020 to the end of October 2020, sales of face creams increased 67%, sales of face cleansers increased 66% and sales of face serums increased 32%.

Sets and kits have been a key contributor to skin care's growth online too, increasing 57% in January 2020 to the end of October 2020, compared to the same period last year.

“The prestige beauty market was quick to respond to the change in consumer behaviour during lockdown," Emma concludes. "Many brands switched their marketing efforts online with innovations including virtual consultations, classes and facials at home led by a skin care professional. Skin care sets and kits proved very popular because they offer value for money and encourage experimentation via trial size products. The growth in online sales is set to continue as retailers find new ways to enhance their high street store offering with an omni channel presence online.”

(Image: iStock.com/Getty)