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The December trade retail sales figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce reveal that the personal care category is a shining star amid poor overall figures. The statistics for the all-important month of December show overall retail trade sales fell by 2.7% to $343.2 billion, which one leading analyst described as ‘truly disastrous.’
Excluding a 0.7% decline in sales of automobiles and gasoline, the figures were even worse, falling by 3.1% compared to the same period last year, the worst figures since records began in the early 1990s.
Personal care only eclipsed by food and beverage
However, adjusted sales for the personal care and health care category during December were $20.92 billion, a rise of 5.65% on the same period in 2007. For the 12 months up to December, sales of personal care products grew by 4% to $247 billion, growth that was only eclipsed by the food and beverage category, which saw sales rise by 5.1%.
Although the figures were likely to have been boosted by heavy retail discounting, analysts believe that many Christmas shoppers may have resorted to fragrances and skin care products as a less expensive gift alternative. It also throws into play the ‘lipstick’ theory, whereby, during tougher economic times, consumers turn to less expensive luxury items, such as makeup and skin care products, as a means of cheering themselves up.