The coronavirus has hugely impacted (mostly negative) prestige beauty sales, according to The NPD Group, as reported by WWD and yahoo!life.

The data shows sales in the 2nd quarter were $2.8 billion, down 36% from the year before. Online sales skyrocketed though, growing more than 90%, which was 61% of industry sales.

Products cycled in and out of popularity. Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor for NPD, told WWD, that April was the “toughest month across every category in beauty.” At one point, she added, “skin care was half of all industry sales. As we came out [of lockdown], we started to see the shift more toward makeup and fragrance.” Jensen said the decline was unprecedented, “We’ve seen segments and subsegments decline, but not at the total industry level.”

It wasn’t all bleak. Some market segments boasted increased sales, including:

  • Home ancillary gift sets +88%
  • Hair treatments and masks +30%
  • Nail care +29%
  • Body and facial devices +16%
  • Body exfoliators +15%
  • Candles +13%
  • Eye makeup +6% (due to false eyelashes, brow products, eyeliner, and mascara

Another positive trend was that products supporting DYI professional services and at-home spa environment performed well.

Some category insights:

  • This decline might be short-lived. Beauty consumers are more optimistic about the future than the average consumer.
  • Obviously women working from home use less makeup—27% of women who regularly wear makeup used less than they did a year ago. And 71% of women say they wear makeup less often “due to COVID-19 lifestyle changes.”
  • 41% of people use the internet to get information about makeup products

Jensen told WWD, “At points, there are signs of consumer interest in the categories, there’s just a lot of concern about going back out. If we’re still in a position where brick-and-mortar is still closed, or consumers are not going out to stores, there may be challenges.”

If you’re in the beauty business, the prime lesson is online sales. Even if women are using less makeup, what they are using, they’re buying online. Make sure the e-commerce aspects of your website are updated and optimized. Check out social selling as well.

Online shopping stock photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock.