Sears is bringing back beauty

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Another day, another deja vu, Sears style. The retailers is bringing beauty back. Well, cosmetics, fragrances and skin-care products anyway.

This marks the second re-introduction this month from the retailer. Sears brought back toys to some stores earlier this month. With the addition of layaway and a Christmas Club, Sears is seemingly looking to its own history in the hopes of finding a profitable future.

The timing may actually make sense. A lot has been written about the so-called lipstick index, that women are more likely to spend on cosmetic items like lipstick during an economic downtown. A new lip color, the story goes, lifts the spirits for a relatively low price. It's a good value in bad times.


The lipstick index has been challenged to be sure, but according to the Chicago Tribune and the NPD Group, cosmetics, skin care and fragrances are selling better across retail channels than other discretionary items, including apparel.

Personally, I think the theory holds true. I've recently become obsessed with lipstick after reading about a new lower cost alternative to the fancy department store brand that's now out of reach. Which is why Sears' new concept peaks my interest.

Sears will carry the typical department store brands and display them in easy to browse, self serve aisles. Not having to beg for attention from snooty sales people is a plus, although there will be beauty "consultants" available to help if needed.

There will also be samples of some, but not all brands and hopefully lipsticks are included in those that are. As appealing as drugstore prices are, there are no savings if you get home only to find the color or texture or taste doesn't work for you.

Sears has tried cosmetics before with no success. And other attempts to woo women shoppers with its softer side have failed as well. Will this be any different? Maybe the timing is right, or maybe if they actually stuck with the program it would grow over time.

The beauty departments are opening in just a handful of stores: two in Chicago, seven in Los Angeles and four in the New York metropolitan area.

But if you're lucky enough to be near one of these, there are freebies and promotions to celebrate their opening. According to Sears, grand opening celebrations are being held in each Sears Beauty location on Aug. 29-30 and Sept. 5-6 and will feature complimentary makeovers, sampling, gifts, and a chance to win gift baskets.

Other offers include a free cosmetic bag and brush set with any $25 cosmetics, fragrance or bath purchase and a $10 Sears reward card with any $50 cosmetics, fragrance, or bath purchase.
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