Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Looking great trumps smelling good


It looks like fewer people were willing to give up great skin than their favorite perfume in 2008. MEXICO/

According to a survey by research firm NPD Group, total U.S. sales of beauty products (sold mainly in department stores) fell 3 percent to $8.38 billion in 2008.

But perfume sales faced the steepest decline, falling 6 percent to $2.68 billion, with lower sales of both men and women’s fragrances. That was despite demand for higher-priced perfume gift sets and a 9 percent rise in new scents for women like Viva La Juicy and the Harajuku Lovers collection.

Makeup also faced a decline in sales — 3 percent — with weak demand for items for the face, eyes and lips.