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Prestige market picks up after tough start to the year

By Guy Montague-Jones , 09-Oct-2008

The US market for prestige beauty products is perking up after a sluggish start to the year according to a global market report from the NPD Group.

In the first half of the year sales of prestige cosmetics fell 1 percent in the US to $3.8bn but despite the decline the second quarter was the strongest of the past three years.

Skincare led the way growing 2 percent to $1.2bn over the six month period and the figure would have been even higher had an extra week not been included in the 2007 data.

Products priced over $70 were the star performers with sales growing 8 percent to $365.1m.

In the makeup category prestige sales began the year looking dowdy and then as with skin care the arrival of spring brought with it better news.

Sales were up three percent in the second quarter but the increase was not enough to rescue the first six months from an overall decline of 2 percent.

Fragrance was the weakest category in the US prestige beauty market falling 3 percent to $1bn over the first two quarters of the year. Again the second quarter was more encouraging with sales up 2 percent.

In France and Italy sales growth in prestige beauty was not significantly higher than in the US with growth rates of 2 percent and 1 percent respectively in the first half the year.

The most notable difference between the European countries and the US comes to the fore when the figures are broken down.

While fragrance struggled and skincare performed well in the US the opposite was true in Europe.

Skincare sales fell 1 percent in France and 2 percent in Italy whereas fragrance grew 3 percent in both countries. Makeup saw the largest growth though advancing 6 percent on the two markets.

The struggle for growth in Europe and America was not seen in China where the NPD tracked 6 major cities between 2007 and 2008.

The market research firm said sales of prestige beauty products leapt up 28 percent in the first six months of the year.

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