Lipstick sales pump up during shaky times

May 5, 2008 at 4:53 PM
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NEW YORK, May 5 (UPI) -- That cute little $280 top may be getting passed over as the U.S. economy sours, but women may be buying more lipstick, market researchers say.

One New Yorker opted not to pick up that top, figuring she shouldn't tax her credit card and "exercise some restraint," The New York Times reported Monday.

But at the cosmetics mecca Sephora, Betsy Stein opted to buy a lipstick or two for about $40.

"That's far less than $280," she commented, bearing out a theory proposed by Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder Cos., when he saw his company selling more lipstick after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His hypothesis: When times are shaky, sales get a bump up when women want to boost their mood with relatively inexpensive lipstick purchases instead of dropping $500 for shoes.

Now, with the economy on the cusp of recession, several cosmetic houses are gearing up for a big year in lip color for two reasons.

First, they hope for a comeback for the lipstick, which is more expensive than a gloss. Second, the companies believe in down times women will continue to splurge on their lips -- even as they wear last year's styles.

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