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What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
November 22, 2023
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?

Retail in 2023 is all about enjoyable experiences, affordable indulgences, and self care. And Ulta Beauty, which embodies each of these trends, seems to have been created with the current moment in mind. 

But flagging consumer confidence and high prices continue to weigh on retailers – especially those that depend on discretionary spending. So with the holiday season just around the corner, we checked in with the popular beauty brand. Has Ulta maintained its remarkable positive trajectory in recent months? And what can the chain expect in the all-important fourth quarter of the year? We dove into the data to find out.  

Ulta Beauty Sparkles On

Location intelligence shows that Ulta’s winning streak is far from over. Between May and September 2023, the chain drew 9.6% to 23.9% more monthly visits than it did in 2022. And though some of this visit growth can be attributed to Ulta’s continued expansion, the average number of visits to each Ulta Beauty location also rose – showcasing strong and growing demand for the brand’s offerings.

This positive trend persisted throughout October and into the beginning of November, with consistent weekly year-over-year (YoY) visit growth. Ulta’s continued success may be fueled, in part, by its wellness-driven approach to beauty – the chain recently announced plans to expand its wellness spaces concept to more than 1300 stores. And with a broad product assortment that famously appeals to multiple demographics, Ulta appears poised to enjoy a particularly robust holiday season. 

Ulta’s Retail Milestones

Indeed, like many retailers, Ulta has a lot riding on the holiday season – with December standing out as the chain’s busiest month of the year, followed not-so-closely by November. In 2022, for example, Ulta attracted 73.1% more visits in December than it did, on average, during an average month last year. And in November, visits to the chain were up 10.8% compared to its monthly average. 

But drilling into daily visit data provides a higher-resolution snapshot of Ulta’s holiday sales rhythms. Black Friday remains Ulta’s busiest sales day by far, with 345.5% more visits than on an average day in 2022. Next in line is Super Saturday – the Saturday before Christmas Eve – when many customers flock to the chain to do their holiday shopping. In third place is the day after Christmas, celebrated in the UK and Canada as “Boxing Day”. Boxing Day has yet to take off in the United States, but the data shows that December 26 has its own visit spike – as  people take advantage of their time off to exchange unwanted gifts (It’s the thought that counts!) or treat themselves to something with their holiday gift cards. And Ulta’s fourth-most-crowded day is December 23rd, which sees true procrastinators scrambling to find the perfect stocking stuffers for their loved ones. 

Holiday Prime Time

Location intelligence also shows that people’s shopping patterns differ significantly on these special retail milestones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, FOMO-driven consumers head out to the stores early on Black Friday, to beat the crowds and make sure they don’t miss out on the best deals. In anticipation of the rush, Ulta opens its doors earlier than usual on Black Friday – but the chain also gets more early visits during its regular opening hours. Analyzing the breakdown of visits between 10:00 AM and and 9:00 PM – Ulta’s normal hours – shows that while an average day sees about 12.9% of visits between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM, 20.5% of Black Friday visits take place during this time frame. On December 23rd, on the other hand, an outsize share of customers visit Ulta in the early afternoon. And Boxing Day sees a higher-than-average share of late-afternoon visitors, as people roll out of bed and make their way leisurely to their favorite shops on the day after Christmas.

Key Takeaways

From therapy to protein bars, consumers of all ages continue to prioritize self care and wellness. And Ulta, which offers customers the perfect way to treat themselves with fun products that also make them feel good, is riding the wave. Will Ulta’s holiday season meet expectations? And how will the brand fare next year? 

Follow Placer.ai’s data-driven retail analyses to find out. 

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