By: Anne Baye Erickson | March 13, 2024

Health and beauty products will always be in demand, allowing the category to continue seeing growth in sales.

The health and beauty aids (HBA) category offers something for everyone. Of course, there’s the convenience of picking up emergency pain relievers, first aid items or cold medicine. People also grab makeup products for last-minute touchups or buy haircare products on the way home after a busy day. That breadth of the HBA product selection enables convenience stores to meet an array of needs for a variety of customers. What’s more, it’s a category that can absorb a mix of new items and new promotional opportunities.

“I see changes every year. (When) a new item comes out, you must try to give it a chance, to have it in your store for three months,” said Faiz Simon, president of Island Lane Capital, which owns Simon Xpress in Warren, Mich., and 14 other sites under a different banner name. “The items I see growing are energy items as well as supplemental to alcohol or tobacco relief.”

“Dermatology-influenced skincare products, such as CeraVe, as well as vitamins, supplements and haircare with Olaplex have driven the largest year-over-year growth at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Aluminum-free natural deodorants and men’s grooming and personal care, such as Duke Cannon and Manscaped, were the top-performing brands in 2023,” said Kye Corn, division merchandise manager for AAFES. AAFES exclusively serves U.S. military personnel and their families on bases around the world.

Although Simon sees the potential that new products or diversifying selections offer, he noted space limitations dictate how varied a store’s HBA inventory can be. At AAFES, Corn takes advantage of generous shelf real estate. This year, he hopes to address the needs of the customers more holistically.

Expanding Assortment

“In 2024, the Exchange’s focus will be on embracing diversity and celebrating every individual’s unique beauty and wellness. The strategy for 2024 is to expand the assortment on skincare supplements, men’s skincare, pro-age, mature skin, professional haircare and natural, clean products,” he said.

That’s not to say he’ll overlook the category’s staples, some of which registered notable bumps last year. Circana market analysis of c-stores confirmed vitamins remain a hot HBA product, with approximately 23% growth in both sales and units. Weight-control offerings posted double-digit gains, 36.6% in sales and 24.2% in units. Cosmetics were a big beauty mover for c-stores in 2023, especially eyeshadows, which boasted a jump of more than 274% in dollar sales and nearly 292% in units.

While HBA transactions may not add up to the levels of tobacco, fuel, beverages and snacks, the category does offer c-stores the opportunity to serve customers’ needs, not just impulse buys, and that reinforces the convenience factor with each purchase.

Source: CStore Decisions