UK beauty sector is key for UK economy says major report

The UK beauty sector is responsible for a bigger contribution to Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) than the motor vehicles manufacturing industry and last year made a £14.2 billion direct gross value added contribution, a new study shows.

The beauty sector makes a huge financial contribution to UK GDP

That’s an interesting point given that car-makers are frequently the recipients of government financial help to support the industry while beauty is left to sink or swim on its own.

And it’s especially important because, while the UK isn’t necessarily thought of as a major manufacturing base, beauty manufacturing actually accounted for £1.9 billion of GDP.

The report, called The Value of Beauty, was commissioned by the British Beauty Council (BBC) and produced by Oxford Economics and is a first in assessing beauty's national impact.

It highlighted the fact that the sector is also going against the declining trend of UK high streets with a net increase of more than 1,200 retail stores and service spaces last year. 

And it showed how many people are involved in beauty as it employs nearly 370,000 people and supports another 220,000 individuals.

Millie Kendall, CEO of the British Beauty Council, said it’s about time beauty’s financial contribution and its importance to the country was recognised.

So what are the key numbers? As far as the GDP contribution is concerned, that more-than-£14-billion accounted of 0.8% of GDP last year. And direct consumer spending added up to £27.2 billion. 

UK shoppers spent £10.4bn last year on care and maintenance products and a further £8.7 billion on personal enhancement products, with £8 billion spent on beauty services.

Those figures certainly explain why so many fashion-focused retailers see beauty as a key growth area and why a big name such as Debenhams, which has struggled to grow in the fashion arena, has made beauty a central pillar of its recovery strategy.

Looking further at the consumer spending figures, Britons spent £6.3 billion on hair services last year, £3.2 billion on personal care/hygiene, the same amount on cosmetics, £2.2 billion on skincare and bodycare, with hair products accounting for £1.9 billion and beauty treatments for £1.4 billion.

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