After enjoying steady increases for the past two years, nail polish sales are finally starting to slow down. In 2011, sales grew 59 percent from the previous year, and in 2012, sales grew another 32 percent, reaching a record $768 million in the U.S. The rate is finally starting to slow down though, clocking in at a comparatively sluggish 19 percent growth this year.
Nail polish sales are sometimes considered an economic indicator, just like cheap alcohol: when the economy is struggling, people look for cheap ways to boost their moods. For some, that means a $6 bottle of Barefoot. Others forgo the boom-time manicure for a bottle of nail polish. And these days, there’s no shortage of bottles to choose from, including magnetic polishes, Shellac gels and nail art sticker sets. So if nail polish sales are slowing, people might be feeling more economically secure.
The nail polish market has also become saturated with competition, says Karen Grant, Vice President and Global Beauty Industry Analyst at NPD. “It’s not virgin territory anymore,” she says. Now that more and more companies are throwing their hats into the arena, there’s less opportunity for growth. Even as competition increases though, some people are starting to get sick of the nail polish trend. At his Fall 2013 collection show, Marc Jacobs revealed that his favorite nail polish color is “shiny”—that is to say, clear.
But even if Marc Jacobs is done with bold nail polish, the fashion trend is by no means passé yet. A 19 percent growth rate is still very healthy, David Greenberg, the president of Maybelline New York, Garnier, and Essie at L’Oréal, told Fashionista. Nail polish is still vibrant because it’s an easy and cheap way to keep up with fashion, says Grant — “If Chanel comes out with a new color, you can be on trend for less than $30.”