Brits skipping on soap to penny-pinch during cost-of-living crisis: report


British people have turned to a surprising penny-pinching move during an ongoing cost-of-living crisis — skipping on soap during bath time. 

“We are seeing significant sales drops in the personal health care category, suggesting consumers are cutting back on products not deemed essential as the cost-of-living crisis continues,” James Lamplugh, commercial director at Reapp, told The Times UK. 

“However, we have seen that the impact of the pandemic lingers, with sales of hand sanitizer being the only product type to buck the trend.” 

Reapp, a data analyst that looks at sales trends for supermarkets, marked a 48% decline in demand for soap during the first six months of 2023 compared to the same time last year, with sales of hand wash down 23%. 

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Soap Bar cutback

Bottles of Dove body wash, produced by Unilever Plc, at an Iceland Foods Ltd. supermarket in Christchurch, UK, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. “Britain’s cost-of-living crisis — on track to big the biggest squeeze since the mid-70s — will continue to worsen before it starts to ease at some point next year,” said Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, a research group campaigning against poverty.  (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The data came from three of Britain’s leading supermarket chains, The Times reported. Reapp noted that the average price of a bar of soap has increased 50%, which has made it tough for families to keep buying at the same level as in previous years. 

The phenomenon is another facet of what some call hygiene poverty, which occurs when consumers are not able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products.”

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wash products cutback

A general view of the Boots department store on June 28, 2023, in Walsall, England.  (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images, File)

Price rises have occurred across the board, according to The Guardian, which cited price increases in toothpaste and shampoo as well, each at a higher level than that of soap. 

Ruth Brock, the chief executive of the Hygiene Bank, said that hygiene poverty was a “hidden crisis” that has grown “much more widespread than we feared” and is “disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable.” 

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Charity soap wash

Anthony Gordon of Everton shops for and makes a food and hygiene products donation to the Blue Pantry, Dec. 15, 2022, in Liverpool, England.  (Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images, File)

The Hygiene Bank works with suppliers and volunteers to donate products to people who cannot afford it. The group claims that 6% of adults are affected by this crisis, rising to 13% in lower-income households. 

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Yahoo Finance Australia reported at the end of May that the country was seeing a similar issue: Aussies have overall cut their spending back in clothes shopping, beauty treatments and home improvements, with a 26% drop in hair and wash products. 



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