Neurotic shoppers fuel health and beauty boom

Wealthy, wrinkly and health-obsessed shoppers are ensuring spending on health & beauty products rockets.

However, the latest research from Mintel also shows health & beauty retailers under pressure from department stores and food retailers.

Mintel estimates the specialist UK health and beauty market was worth£12.8 billion last year, having grown by 13.7 per cent between 1997 and 2001. Total consumer spending in the sub-sector grew by almost 20 per cent on the review period. Specialists take approximately two-thirds of market share, and grocers capture about 30 per cent.

Boots - the largest European specialist - emerges as one of the few players to combine pharmacy, drugstore, perfumery and cosmetics successfully.

But Mintel's Health & beauty retailing in Europe report says the relaxation of pharmacy licence restrictions will hit specialists. The big grocers are developing in-store pharmacies that are both profitable and generate footfall, and, following deregulation, would only be constrained by the availability of pharmacists.

'However, the growing demand for products with associated 'health' credentials for a population that is becoming increasingly neurotic on health matters means a retailer of premium products is well placed,' according to Mintel.

'Grocery multiples can attack the market for commodities, but they are not so well placed to attack the premium end - partly because they do not have the right environment.'