UK enters recession: Beauty 'needs to reinvigorate industry' to see it through

By Sarah Parsons | Published: 12-Aug-2020

The beauty business has been warned that the 'lipstick effect' is no longer enough as the economic impact of Covid-19 lockdown measures has been confirmed

Britain is officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years, as coronavirus lockdown measures forced the economy into its biggest slump on record.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) announced on Wednesday that gross domestic product (GDP) fell in Q2 by 20.4%, the largest decline since quarterly records began in 1955.

Consumer spending plunged as physical stores, services, manufacturing and construction industries were forced to close, or reduce productivity, due to social distancing rules.

After a decline of 2.2% in Q1, the new figures confirm a technical recession – a GDP decline over two consecutive quarters – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Millie Kendall, Chief Executive of industry body British Beauty Council told Cosmetics Business that while the recession is "incredibly disappointing" it is "hardly surprising".

"Beauty retail and the services industry have been hit badly by the staggered re-openings, social distancing and increased costs of PPE," she said.

"We need to focus on rebuilding consumer confidence in our sector, we believe this is imperative."

Britain's services sector – which includes salons and professional beauty treatments – comprises 79.6% of the UK economy and suffered the biggest decline on record with a drop of 19.9% in Q2.

The beauty industry's 'lipstick effect' has a reputation of being recession-proof, but Kendall warns that this economic downturn will "take more effort".

"We have often sailed through previous recessions," she continued.

"We need to stabilise and reinvigorate our industry and although I do see an immediate shrink in our overall value, it is clear we are rapidly shifting into the future and need to build on what beauty will look like in 2030."

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