Shoppers in Britain are shunning soap and other personal hygiene products, with leading supermarkets reporting a drop in sales of the items amid the cost of living crisis.
Figures from Britain’s leading supermarket chains show demand for soap fell by 48% in the first six months of 2023 compared with the same period last year, The Guardian reported.
Sales of handwash were down by 23%. Bubble bath sales decreased by 35% and shower gel by 1%. Only hand sanitiser bucked the trend, with sales up by 29%.
Reapp, which compiled the supermarket data, attributes the falling sales to rising prices. A four-pack of Pears amber soap now costs £3 at Tesco while a six-pack of Dove soap costs £3.50.
James Lamplugh, Reapp’s commercial director, said, “Our analysis of recent supermarket sales data indicates that the nation’s shoppers are still having to make tough decisions between household essentials.”
“We are seeing significant sales drops in the personal healthcare category, despite these products experiencing price reductions – suggesting consumers are cutting back on products not deemed as essential as the cost of living crisis continues,” he added.
This year Unilever, the company behind brands such as Marmite and Dove soap, warned that its prices would continue to rise in 2023 but denied it was making “windfall profits” during the cost of living crisis.
The cost of toothpaste is up an average 29p, compared with July last year, according to analysis by Trolley.co.uk. Soap is up by 18p, from an average of £2.06 to £2.24, and hair shampoo by 25p to an average cost of £3.87 in the same time period.
Last year a report suggested 3.2 million UK adults were affected by “hygiene poverty”, with 12% saying they have avoided facing colleagues as a result. Their struggle to buy basic items such as soap and deodorant is having a devastating effect on their daily lives, the findings from the Hygiene Bank charity showed.
Its chief executive, Ruth Brock, said it was a hidden crisis.
“It’s much more widespread than we feared, it’s increasing, and it’s disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable,” she said.
Hygiene Bank aims to supply food banks, homeless shelters, schools and other organisations with items such as deodorant, laundry detergent, nappies, period products, shampoo, soap and toothpaste.