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Sep 6, 2022
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UK shoppers escape reality by buying "small indulgences" - report

Sep 6, 2022

It’s often said when times get tough, lipstick sales rocket. And to support that long-established claim, the UK population continues to treat itself during the current cost-of-living crisis, new research shows.

Image: Pexels

In a growing trend dubbed ‘dopamine dressing’, a study commissioned by online fashion/beauty/lifestyle retailer LTK reveals 59% of people have purchased an item that gives them “a feeling of escapism” in the last six months. And this includes rocketing searches for brightly-coloured clothing.

The YouGov research of 2,000 UK adults shows that in the past year shoppers have been looking for “small indulgences to help lift their mood and provide them with an escape from the everyday challenges during the economic downturn”. 

Some 20% of shoppers who said they now spend more on beauty items than they did in the last six months noted they did so “as an instant and cost-effective way to brighten their mood”.

Of UK shoppers generally, 42% said they would spend over £30 on an item that makes them feel good. LTK said this finding is corroborated by discovery trends from its shopping platform, which show a 93% increase in searches for skincare month on month, as well as a 1,500% increase in searches for foundation and a 900% increase in searches for nail polish during the same time frame.

LTK’s top consumer trends show a month-on-month increase in searches for ‘brightly coloured’ items, with ‘lime green’ up 5,000%, ‘yellow dress’ up 1,000%, and ‘pink shirt’ seeing 1,100% more searches than the month prior.

Its data also shows that the top 10 purchased items this year so far have been heavily dominated by beauty products including Nars Foundation and Look Fantastic X Sol Janeiro moisturiser.

In 2021 the top 10 items bought were more fitness and wellness-inspired with Nike trainers and leggings ranking as two of the top five purchased items, because of the heightened focus on fitness during the pandemic.

Of shoppers who are trying to spend less in the last three months compared to this time last year, the two most important factors when purchasing items to treat themselves are to feel like they’ve bought a quality item (51%) or knowing that they’ve got a bargain price or they’ve saved money (62%). 

“This shows that shoppers are more considered in their purchase behaviours, opting for items that are a true investment and financially beneficial”, LKT noted.

Meanwhile, the report claims 80% of consumers get as much joy from purchasing an item they love worth less than £15 as they would buying a loved item worth up to £250.

And while people are currently feeling the squeeze, many continue to be generous in spirit, with 36% recently spending on presents and gifts for others. When planning for the festive season, 44% say they will be less focused on purchasing expensive Christmas presents and buying more meaningful non-essential items for their loved ones.

Social media has a part to play in consumers' shopping behaviours. The research found that 43% of consumers polled say their purchasing habits are affected by social media influencers, as they are “more likely to buy something that has been shared online”.

“Shopping has changed considerably in the last year, and we’ve seen from LTK creators that consumers are finding a way to navigate the current economic climate whilst purchasing items that provide them with a sense of escapism,” said Amber Venz Box, co-founder and president of LTK. 

“We’re seeing more and more consumers follow creators for their savvy sales shopping tips and look to them as guides for the best recommendations on how to shop smarter and more cost-effectively during this time.”

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