The Mail on Sunday
Plastic waste worries prompt rise in soap sales
AFTER many years of decline, the humble bar of soap is finally slipping back into fashionable bathrooms.
While body washes and liquid cleansers have edged their way into homes in recent years, figures show sales of traditional soap increased by almost three per cent last year, reversing a long-term downward trend.
Consumer experts Kantar Worldpanel, which monitors weekly household spending, reported that only two years ago, sales fell by four per cent.
However today, the market for bars of soap is worth around £68.2 million.
Retail experts believe that growing environmental awareness among consumers – inspired by television shows such as Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II – may have helped drive customers back to traditional soap.
Meanwhile, supermarkets have reacted to the national mood against plastic waste by reducing the numbers of handwash items sold in plastic bottles, and by selling interesting new ranges of soap.
Sales of liquid handwash were up 2.4 per cent in the past 12 months, down from the eight per cent growth seen in recent years, added Kantar Worldpanel.
Tim Nancholas, the firm’s strategic insight director, said: ‘There is a definite trend for natural and recyclable products.
‘This has created a halo effect, which has spilled into our washing and bathing habits. What we are seeing now is a growth in single bars of soap.
‘I think it is the start of a trend linked to the wish to cut down on plastic waste and also to avoid excessive packaging.’
Waitrose said it has seen a 7.1 per cent rise in sales of traditional bars of soap, while rivals Asda is also reporting a small rise over the past year.
Emma Priestland, plastic pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘It’s great to see early signs that solid soaps are on the rise.
‘If more and more of us do it, it’ll put the pressure on those companies who continue to use unnecessary plastic packaging.’