Retailers See Strong Growth in Bath and Beauty Products

Spas will have to fend off increasing competition from retailers such as Target and Gap, as they step up sales of bath, beauty, and at-home spa products. The trend is fueled by mass market interest in luxury goods, and by harried consumers who don't have the time or inclination to go to a spa.

'Ten years ago, most Americans hadn't even heard of a spa outside of a small group of higher-income consumers,' says Tom Vierhile, director of Product Scan Online a division of researcher Datamonitor. 'Today, you can get spa products everywhere.' (See, 2/19/06 'Self-Prescribed' Home Spa Products Pose Industry Challenges").

Gap has hired Annette McEvoy, a founding executive of Bath & Body Works, to help launch a new personal-care collection for GapBody. Today, Bath & Body Works is one of Limited Brands' biggest divisions, with $2.1 billion of sales and 1,600 stores nationwide. In March, discount store chain Target introduced its own bath and body line, with 20 new items ranging from high-end spa products to a personal-care line for men.