A Look at the UK Market

Baby Care During Covid-19

as published by GfK in Sept/Oct 2020 Progressive Preschool

All consumer categories have been affected in one or another way by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and baby care is no exception. The year to date value performance has declined by a further 5% compared to last year, taking it to -26% year on year (and -18% in volume ).

Not surprisingly , the most affected categories have been strollers, (down 27% on last year) and car seats (down by 19% in the same period). Following the steepest category declines during the strictest lockdown period in April, these mobility categories saw their value losses ease as people were allowed to spend more time outside during the summer months.

Car seats that can be adapted as the child grows have driven an improvement in the overall category, which was sitting at -17% in August. Unfortunately, this has not been enough to offset the ongoing deep declines among the more premium infant car seat products. The appeal of second- hand models, for older children in particular, is likely to have increased with the greater financial pressures faced by many since April.

While the car seat market shows some signs of eventual recovery, sales of strollers remains stagnant with an August value drop of almost 50% compared to the same month in 2019. Looking at a sub segment level, buggies have declined the least over these months (-36% in value). This is partly linked to their lower average price, but price promotions have also contributed here, backing the online growth which partially offsets the sharp in-store slow down. Meanwhile, the 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 travel system categories have suffered the deepest value declines of almost any market across total baby care in recent months.

Bottles and teats, the third biggest baby care category is also in underlying decline which has accelerated from -3% to -6% in terms of value (- 10% volume) over the last 12 months. Sales of bottles and teats were weighted heavily towards in-store selling although sales shifted quickly to online following COVID-19 restrictions, with almost half of the value now sold digitally.

Across the total baby care market, online sales are up by 28% in the last three months, a big hike from the 2% value increase in the last 12 months. The level of volume sold online has grown at a much faster rate than value, as a result of lower priced and previously in-store focused categories such as soothers and teethers generally outperforming.

 

The underlying trend of sales shifting from in-store towards online continues in comparison to the equivalent month in 2019, albeit with the online value share falling from a peak of 83% in April to 61% in August. With local lockdowns underway and likely to be extended in the future, the way consumers shopped for baby products is not expected to return to the pre-lockdown ‘normal’ anytime soon.  

We are grateful to GfK for this research.