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Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
March 6, 2024
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine

The multi-billion dollar beauty industry has proved to be one of the most resilient retail categories over the past few years – and Ulta Beauty has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this trend, reporting record growth and experiencing strong foot traffic to its stores. 

We dove into the location intelligence data for Ulta to analyze recent foot traffic performance, explore seasonal trends, and better understand the chain’s visitor base. 

A Blush With Success Year-Over-Year 

The past few years have seen Ulta’s monthly foot traffic growing on a near-constant basis – and 2023 was no exception. Year-over-year (YoY) visits to the chain were up by double digits most months and Ulta consistently outperformed the wider Beauty & Spa segment. The company’s success appears poised to continue in 2024, with January 2024 visits up 4.9% relative to the already impressive January 2023, even as foot traffic to the wider Beauty & Spa category dipped. 

The consistent foot traffic growth Ulta experienced in 2023 and early 2024 is particularly impressive given that 2022 was also a banner year for the brand – meaning that foot traffic has exceeded the previous years’ growth for two years straight. And the company seems to be capitalizing on its success by further enhancing its shopping experience, expanding its presence with new stores, and emphasizing wellness offerings at existing locations to keep its customers coming back.

Holiday Highlights

Charting the change in monthly foot traffic to Ulta helps visualize the chain’s seasonal visit patterns and highlight the company’s consistent upward climb since the 2021 retail reopening. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns led to a steep drop in foot traffic, but visits picked up – and stayed up – as soon as social-distancing restrictions eased. And though inflation replaced the pandemic as an economic concern, Ulta visits continued on their upward climb, highlighting the broad appeal the chain offers to shoppers of all economic levels

Ulta also enjoys significantly elevated visits during the holiday season, with foot traffic surging every December. And visits to the chain, even without a holiday spike, continue to exhibit growth – January 2024’s visits were 43.3% higher than they were in January 2019.

Valentine’s Variances

While December may be the month that Ulta sees the most visits, there are plenty of other minor holidays and retail opportunities that contribute to foot traffic spikes to the retailer. And although Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday in the official sense of the word, Ulta still enjoyed a mid-week boost in visits on Wednesday, February 14th 2024. 

Visits to Ulta grew 17.2% on Valentine’s Day compared to traffic of the previous six Wednesdays. February 14th 2024  also saw 10.5% more visitors to Ulta than the day did in 2023, signaling a continued, growing interest in the beauty retailer. 

The Gen A Connection

Ulta has taken pains to carry products for consumers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds –and recently, one age group in particular has been making headlines for its interest in beauty and skincare. Teens and tweens have been flocking to their local malls to try out products from brands like Drunk Elephant, driven, in part, by the rise of #BeautyTok, where influencers on TikTok post their makeup and skincare routines. 

And indeed, trade area data indicates that families of all types are overrepresented among Ulta’s visitor base: Analyzing the psychographic makeup of Ulta’s trade areas using the Spatial.ai: PersonaLive dataset revealed that the chain’s captured market* includes more family segments when compared to the chain’s potential market*. Specifically, the chain’s captured markets had higher rates of “Near-Urban Diverse Families”, “Upper Suburban Diverse Families”, and “Wealthy Suburban Families” relative to the chain’s potential market. On the flip side, “Young Urban Singles” saw a smaller share of visitors in Ulta’s captured market than in its potential market. 

Ulta’s popularity with family segments may be due to the increased demand for skincare and makeup among the families’ younger generations. And by continuing to cater to these younger consumers – alongside the numerous other segment that shop at Ulta – the company can hope to foster long-term brand loyalty and continue driving sales and foot traffic to its stores. 

*A chain’s potential market refers to the population residing in a given trade area, where the Census Block Groups (CBGs) making up the trade area are weighted to reflect the number of households in each CBG.. A chain’s captured market weighs each CBG according to the actual number of visits originating to the chain from that CBG. 

Strong Foundations

Ulta continues to impress, growing its sales and foot traffic even during a uniquely challenging period for the average consumer. By creating a shopping experience that is accessible to people across all ages and income levels, the company ensures that its visits can continue to grow.

For more data-driven retail insights, follow placer.ai.

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection. 

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