••• health and beauty research

Department stores see increase in beauty-product sales

Mass retailers still reign supreme for shoppers when it comes to stocking up on beauty products, with 42.5 percent of total beauty shoppers turning to mass retailers for their beauty needs in 2014, a slight decrease from 43.7 percent the previous year, according to an ongoing shopper behavior study conducted by the Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research.

Despite upgrades to the beauty aisle at both Target and Walmart, shoppers haven’t quite latched on to the idea of “mass-tige.” They continue to seek out upscale beauty experiences elsewhere. Department stores, such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, saw the biggest increase in shoppers looking for their beauty needs. Shoppers say it’s because department stores offer high-quality products, all of the products they are looking for and they get to try before they buy. Those reasons are also what draw shoppers to specialty beauty. The study also shows more people buying beauty purchases through Amazon.com, with the percentage doubling in 2014. 

Overall, few shoppers conduct online research to find the best beauty products for them. Women conduct the most online research in the category, and, aside from search engines, they rely on retailer Web sites, brand Web sites and beauty blogs for information. Males rely on retailer and brand Web sites equally and then turn to magazine Web sites. Social media remains the least-used resource, according to the study. However, women drive the use of Pinterest as a beauty resource.

••• retailing research

Not much shrinkage in loss-prevention budgets

According to the National Retail Federation/University of Florida National Retail Security Survey, retailers say inventory shrink averaged 1.38 percent of retail sales, or $44 billion, in 2014.

Specifically, retailers surveyed estimate that shoplifting accounted for the largest part of reported shrink in 2014 – 38 percent, followed by employee/internal theft (34.5 percent), administrative and paperwork errors (16.5 percent), vendor fraud or error (6.8 percent) and unknown loss (6.1 percent).

When it comes to loss-prevention budgets, 39.4 percent of those surveyed say their budget for 2015 increased over last year; just over one-third (36.6 percent) said their budgets would be similar to what they were last year – leaving 23.9 percent of respondents with decreased resources.

Richard Hollinger, criminology professor at the University of Florida and lead author of the NRSS for the past 24 years, notes this year’s shrink percentage is the lowest seen in the survey’s history. “Loss prevention professionals have done a commendable job of elevating the issue of shrink and retail fraud within their own companies and with industry insiders and the public, but the battle wages on to find ways to contain further losses to their businesses,” said Hollinger.