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Sephora is opening more stores as it moves beyond the mall

New York (CNN) Makeup sales have been walloped by the pandemic. But that's not stopping Sephora from adding more stores as it pushes ahead to attract shoppers outside of struggling malls.

The company said Thursday that it is adding more than 60 freestanding stores this year, and 85% of them won't be in malls. The new stores comes on top of its previously announced 200 Sephora "mini shops" inside of Kohl's stores, the company said Thursday.

Sephora, owned by LVMH (LVMHF), said the total count of roughly 260 new stores set to open this year marks its largest store expansion in the retailer's 21-year history in the US.

Its growth comes at a turbulent time for the beauty industry amid the pandemic, waning traffic to malls and a historically high rate of mall-based store vacancies of 10.5%.

Mask wearing and the work-from-home routine has pummeled cosmetics sales as consumers embrace a casual, low-maintenance lifestyle. Makeup sales dropped 34% in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to market research firm NPD.

Sephora is opening 200 mini shops inside Kohl's stores in 2021.

Sephora said the 60 stores will begin to open in February in cities like Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Texas.

"We chose these locations based on a number of factors, with a focus on growing our presence in suburban and off-mall locations, ultimately making the Sephora experience more accessible to even more beauty shoppers across the country," the company said in an email to CNNBusiness.

The retailer also provided an update to its plans to open Sephora shops inside of Kohl's (KSS)department stores. Sephora said the first of these mini shops would open in California (greater Los Angeles), New York, New Jersey and the Midwest, including Chicago.

The partnership with Kohl's will replace an earlier one that Sephora struck with JCPenney (JCP) that the cosmetics chain says is slated to end in the next few years.

The deal is also expected to benefit Kohl's by allowing it to offer a broader array of higher-end beauty products to appeal to its younger shoppers.

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