A Look at the UK Market

BABY-CARE: A Positive Start to 2022

as published by GfK in March 2022 Progressive Preschool

As we move into Spring, the baby care market is continuing to recover after losses seen during the pandemic. In January, the market saw 32% value growth versus the same period last year. Volume is also benefiting from this positive trend as it is up 5% on last year. However, in both value and volume terms, we are still behind pre-pandemic levels with value still 7% behind January 2020 levels (10% for volume). As we move into Q2, the positive recovery looks set to slowly continue, however, with the cost of living currently rising, consumers have a new challenges to face.

A FOCUS ON CAR SEATS

Car seats was an area that was particularly hard struck during the pandemic. Already struggling before the pandemic hit with consumers not travelling as much and bigger retailer and manufacturer issues with reduced stock and supplies, the market was in decline. Midway through 2021, we started to see the market recover as restrictions started to lift and consumers were able to start travelling again. As at January 2022, sales were looking far more positive with value up 32% on January 2021 and up 8% on the last 12 months. However, like many baby care markets, it is yet to revert or outperform its pre-pandemic levels. The market value remains down 23% on the same period in 2020 and in terms of volume down 25%.

The way consumers are purchasing car seats has also been gradually changing. In January 2020 consumers were purchasing more in store than online, with 55% of the total value in January 2020 being spent in-store. However, in 2022 we have seen this shift to 58% of value moving online. With more online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok providing more ways for consumers to buy products online, and with a fewer traditional retailers this trend looks like it is set to stay – though we are delighted with the return of Babies R Us!

ONLINE IMPACT

The move to online has had other impacts on the market. Data shows that consumers are willing to spend more for a product online than they are in-store – a trend seen not just in the baby market. Consumers in January 2022 would, on average, spend 12% more online than they would in store helping the value of the markets to grow. With consumers having less disposable income this year, we may start to see more people moving back to the High Street to take advantage of those lower prices.

The market has also seen a more general premiumisation as well, with consumers more likely to trade up. This will also link to feelings that the more expensive a car seat is, the greater security and safety it provides. In the last 12 months, the share of volume of items bought over £100  was 35% compared with 32% last year. In particular items priced over £250 have seen a growth on both last year and 2019, with the volume growing 3% on 2019 and 28% on 2020 .

Car seats for older children (aged between 4 to 12 years, Groups 2/3, and 3) continues to be the biggest portion of the market with 46% share of the total volume. However, this area of the market has the lowest average selling price per item. In contrast car seats for infants (birth to 12/15 months or Group 0 and 0+) has seen the biggest increase in average price growing 27% on January last year. Currently this segment of the market only makes up 22% of total volume sales for January 2022, but value wise it makes up 47% of the market and is the biggest value area.

Looking forward to the rest of 2022, this has the potential to be a positive year not only for car seats but for the whole baby care market. Rising interest rates, taxes and costs of living are suggested to be short term and will be a challenge for consumers in the first half of this year at the very least. We may see slight changes in buying behaviours as consumers try to navigate this challenging time perhaps opting for more affordable options. But with greater emphasis on concerns around sustainability and buy once, buy well we could see that the volume of sales drops, but we maintain value as consumers start to make more considered purchases.

We are grateful to GfK for this research.

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