UK retail sales have increased in August, as growing consumer confidence led to a boost in beauty purchases.
Overall sales were up 4.1% during the month, against growth of 1% in 2022, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
This was driven by the health care and beauty categories, as retailers invested in new cosmetic brands and consumers prioritised self-care products.
Beauty and skin care also have been consistent performers with consumers for the whole year, Lara Conradie, spokesperson for the BRC, told Cosmetics Business.
“We have noticed that skin care, health and beauty have been the standout categories in 2023, and this month just follows the trend of them still doing pretty well,” she added.
Conradie pointed to Hailey Bieber’s skin care brand Rhode as being particularly popular with shoppers at the moment.
The brand recently launched a limited edition strawberry flavour for its peptide lip treatment, on the back of August’s strawberry girl trend.
Beauty sales were also boosted by an uplift in SPF product purchases for holidays booked in August.
“Health, beauty and food and drink were the strongest performing categories both on the high street and online, as consumers made the most of brief spells of sunshine to enjoy the summer holidays,” said Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail, KPMG.
Clothing and footwear saw weaker growth during the period, and was attributed to families delaying purchasing school uniforms and other back-to-school items.
A washout August weather-wise in the UK also deterred shoppers from making more clothing purchases compared with beauty, said Conradie.
“The weather always has such an effect on people's shopping habits, which has been coupled with the current cost of living crisis.”
Despite the positive end to the summer months, Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, warned that sales growth may fall during autumn.
“Easing inflation will certainly be welcomed by consumers, but as the rate of price rises falls, so will the extra spending needed by consumers,” she said.
“Furthermore, high interest rates and high winter energy bills will put pressure on many households to spend cautiously.”
“With shoppers becoming more calculated and aware of what they are getting for their money than we have seen for a long time, retailers will have to fight harder for every sale,” added Martin.