Covid-19: Nail product sales echo 'lipstick effect' as consumers cut back

Online sales of nail care products have shown double-digit growth during the Covid-19 lockdown, suggesting they may be taking over from lipstick as an affordable treat that can act as a bellwether for the wider economy.

The 'Lipstick Effect' is a long standing theory that says consumers, when faced with difficult economic conditions, will cut back on buying big-ticket items, but treat themselves to smaller luxuries such as expensive lipsticks. Believers in the theory include former John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds, who in 2017 noted that lipstick sales were increasing as financial uncertainty grew.

Figures from NPD Group show that online UK sales of premium nail products jumped by 12% in the week beginning 16 March – when the public were asked to stay home. The following week, after non-essential businesses were required to close, saw a further rise. Sales that week were 24% ahead of the same week in 2019. Brands such as Chanel, Dior, and YSL saw a jump in their sales.

“The increase in sales of nail products online, particularly intense nail enamel shades, indicates that nail care could be the ‘Covid-19 Lipstick Effect’. Consumers are increasingly turning to self-care and home based beauty treatments like at-home manicures to improve wellbeing and boost their mood. An application of nail polish is quick, simple and provides an instant result,” said Emma Fishwick, account manager at NPD UK Beauty.

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