No One Wants High-Cost-metics Nowadays

Generating store traffic will be a touchstone of survival for the cosmetics industry in 2012, as executives grapple with a bearish business that has been made even tougher by a deepening, unpredictable recession.

Most cosmetics executives expect the industry to struggle next year with volume figures that are flat to 5 percent ahead.

“You can’t rely on the store traffic anymore because it isn’t there,” said Byron Donics, president of Aramis, Inc. “We want to make the doors we’re in now more productive,” Donics said, adding, “What it will take is a strategy of driving people into the stores.”

“Two years ago, there were no worries about store traffic,” said Leonard Lauder, president and chief executive officer, Estee Lauder Cos. “People worried about which stores were going to be in business. Now it’s just the reverse.”

The falloff in traffic concerns Lauder, as does the Persian Gulf crisis and the effect of a patchwork recession that has depressed some parts of the country while leaving others