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Homebound shoppers are finding comfort in scented candles, home fragrances this holiday season


Voluspa scented candles on the market at Bloomingdale’s Inc. flagship division retailer in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.

Nina Westervelt | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Perfume and cologne are usually fashionable holiday presents. This yr, nevertheless, the sweetness business is getting a lift from a distinct type of perfume: Home scents.

The cause? Shoppers are shopping for candles, diffusers and different scented gadgets as they take comfort in smaller indulgences through the coronavirus pandemic, stated Larissa Jensen, vice chairman and sweetness business advisor for market researcher The NPD Group.

“Home scent has been a strong performer all year,” Jensen stated. “All of that’s really tied to the fact that we are more homebound than ever.”

The class has turn into a uncommon shiny spot for magnificence retailers as shoppers skip eyeshadow and lipstick whereas social distancing and carrying a masks. Fragrance gross sales declined 17% from January to September yr over yr, in accordance with The NPD Group, which tracks gross sales in malls and specialty magnificence retailers. During that very same interval, home scent gross sales grew 13% and gross sales of home scent reward units, corresponding to a candle paired with a lotion, grew 22%, in accordance with NPD.

Fragrance, which incorporates every part from perfumes to candles, has additionally rebounded faster than every other magnificence class through the international well being disaster. Makeup gross sales dropped by 31% in the third quarter yr over yr, in accordance with NPD. Fragrance, alternatively, grew by 1% through the three-month interval.

“Fragrance has been this ‘Little Engine That Could’ in many ways,” Jensen stated. “The speed of its recovery is really surprising.”

She stated perfume reward units have gained recognition, too — and never simply as an merchandise to wrap up for a buddy or member of the family. Some shoppers see the packages as a greater deal, particularly if they’ve misplaced revenue or a job through the pandemic.

“Consumers are really looking for that value now, more than ever,” she stated.

Jensen stated she’s contributed to the home scent development, too. She’s stocked up on candles and now burns them all through the day to make her home really feel brighter and extra cozy.

“We all want to escape this year,” she stated.

When Ulta Beauty reported its third-quarter outcomes Thursday, the corporate stated perfume and bathtub was its prime class for gross sales, with double-digit development. Other classes dragged offset this development, nevertheless. Sales at shops open a minimum of 14 months and on-line through the quarter dropped almost 9% yr over yr.

Ulta shares closed Friday down 3.45% to $279.54, dragging down its market worth to $15.7 billion. The firm’s shares are up about 10% yr thus far.

Bath & Body Works, owned by L Brands, has gotten a bounce from perfume. Andrew Meslow, CEO of L Brands, stated at an investor convention hosted by Morgan Stanley on Wednesday that Bath & Body Works clients are participating extra with model, a development that “has really been accentuated or accelerated here in the Covid timeframe.”

Not solely are clients shopping for extra cleaning soap and hand sanitizer, he stated they are additionally “wanting to make the home even more personalized and a place that feels pleasant to be in more frequently, whether it’s as an office or as a school or whatever purpose it may be serving.”

That is bringing them again to search for new scents and seasonal fragrances. And, he stated, some see candles, physique lotions and perfume mists as “affordable luxuries” through the recession.

Bath & Body Works had file gross sales and earnings in the third quarter. Same-store gross sales jumped 56%. The firm stated two-thirds of its greenback development got here from the home perfume and physique care classes, whereas one-third of the expansion got here from soaps and sanitizers.

Shares of L Brands have greater than doubled thus far this yr, bringing its share value to $38.25 and its market worth to $10.6 billion at market shut Friday. Pandemic-related tendencies have helped its Pink model, too, as shoppers purchase pajamas and comfortable garments and offset declining gross sales at Victoria’s Secret.

On retailers’ web sites and on the magnificence counter, Jensen of NPD stated clients have been extra keen to splurge when shopping for perfumes and colognes in current months. She stated they are selecting juices with a better focus of perfume oils that price extra however last more.

She stated shoppers could also be keen to spend extra on scents as a result of they’re carefully tied to feelings.

“Scent is especially unique to everybody,” she stated. “Maybe people are looking to bring back the memories of what time was like before the pandemic and going back to old fragrances that they used to love.”



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