The masks are off: Olive Young reports make-up sales boom as Korea lifts social distancing measures

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Olive Young says make-up is flying off the shelves after authorities lifted COVID-19 social distancing measures. [Olive Young]
Olive Young says make-up is flying off the shelves after authorities lifted COVID-19 social distancing measures. [Olive Young]

Related tags K-Beauty South korea retail brick and mortar make-up COVID-19

South Korean beauty retail major Olive Young says make-up is flying off the shelves after authorities lifted COVID-19 social distancing measures.

The local health authorities loosened rules requiring masks to be worn outdoors on May 2. According to a report from Olive Young, sales of colour cosmetics increased by 56% from April 18 to May 10 compared to the previous year.

In terms of category, Olive Young saw sales of lip tints soar by 94%. This was followed by gains in the contour and blusher categories, which increased by 72% and 66% respectively.

In the skin care, the retailer observed sales of sun care products increase by 57%, which it attributed to the lifting of the mask mandates as well as anticipation of the upcoming summer season.

Furthermore, sales at its brick-and-mortar outlets increased by 28% and consumer traffic increased by 20% during the same period as restrictions, including social gatherings, were lifted.

According to the firm, sales were particularly “remarkable” ​in the university districts and the business districts which saw sales increase by 37% and 29% respectively.

In addition, sales of stores in large shopping malls surged 34% from the previous year from May 1 to 10 as the number of families going to malls increased in May.

Olive Young is a health and beauty product store owned by the CJ Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates.

With a “clear offline recovery trend”,​ the company said it would be concentrating on its offline business this year. In line with this, it would be “speeding up” ​plans to enhance in-store experiences.

At the end of last April, about 80 brick-and-mortar stores had been enhanced. This resulted in a cumulative year-on-year sales increase of 29% at the renewed stores from January to April.

Currently, 250 offline stores are in the process of being renewed and the company also unveiled seven new stores in the first quarter of this year, taking the total number of offline stores to 1,272.

Furthermore, Olive Young said it was in the process of a mass hiring spree for several positions in its offline retail business.

"Despite the difficult business environment due to the COVID-19 crisis, Olive Young's offline stores are continuing to expand, and they are preparing to take another leap forward ahead of the endemic transition,”​ the company said in a statement.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the slowdown of the offline retail space, last year Olive Young reported a record-high performance last year.

Its consolidated sales increased 13% year-on-year to KRW 2.11tn (U$1.67bn) and operating profit increased by 38% to KRW 137.8bn (U$109.1m) last year, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

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