Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

All Wet: Bath-Products Market Enjoys Boom in Stress-Filled Times

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

All Wet: Bath-Products Market Enjoys Boom in Stress-Filled Times

Article excerpt

YOU'VE HAD one of those horrible days that began when your computer crashed at work and ended when you discovered your children drawing on the wallpaper.

But before letting the stress get the upper hand, you can fill the bathtub with hot water and bury yourself beneath a layer of fragrant, moisturizing bubbles or wallow in bath salts from the Dead Sea.

Spending time in a warm bath is becoming a popular way to unwind after a stressful, hectic day.

Specialty bath shops, department stores and even discount and grocery stores carry a vast selection of products made from herbs and other natural ingredients. The bath gels, lotions, oils and soaps not only make you feel clean and smell good, but some also claim to help ease depression and relax the mind. Stores also carry colorful loofahs, sponges and other scrubbing brushes that help cleanse and revive the skin.

Bath products are a growing division of the cosmetics industry, with sales of $700 million last year, according to Kline & Co., a research firm in Fairfield, N.J.

While sales of other cosmetics products are growing at 1 or 2 percent a year, the bath-products market has been averaging 7 percent growth since 1987, said Lenka Grskovic, senior consultant for Kline.

Bath items are among the top sellers in the cosmetics department at a Neiman Marcus store in Fort Worth, Texas, said company official Linda Smith. Because the products are increasing in popularity, Neiman Marcus has opened a bath shop in the cosmetics department, she said.

"Customers want things that will help them take care of themselves," Smith said. "Everyone is stressed today. Everybody's schedule is frantic. Relaxing in the bathtub is one way people can go home and unwind. They can light some candles in the bathroom. They can soak in the tub with something therapeutic, and this helps them get a good night's sleep."

Ann Crowe, an assistant consultant at Bath and Body Works in Fort Worth, said customers often ask for products that will help them relax after a long day.

"I think people are wanting to get away from using food or alcohol to cope with stress," she said. Taking a bath "is a much healthier way for people to relax, and it makes you feel better. …

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