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Side hustle trend helps prompt retro retail revival

A survey of retail Chief Executives (CEOs) undertaken by industry trade body The Direct Selling Association, whose members include Avon and The Body Shop at Home, has outlined strong growth in the direct-to-consumer channel of retail in the first half of 2019.

“Amidst continued decline on the high street, and almost 60 years after brands such as Avon arrived in the UK, direct selling is seeing a revival, with modern-day versions of the classic ‘Tupperware-style’ parties of the 1960s making a come-back to help deliver an estimated 27 per cent growth for the sector over the last year,” commented Susannah Schofield OBE, director general of the Direct Selling Association (DSA).

In the survey of 21 CEOs from across its 57 member companies, 67 per cent of respondents reported a “strong start” to 2019, with 31% stating that 2018 had been a “record year” performance-wise for their companies. A further 92 per cent stated that they expect to see further growth over the coming quarter.

The Body Shop’s direct-to-consumer division, The Body Shop at Home, reported one of the strongest performances, with growth of over 70 per cent during 2018, a fact recently credited by parent brand The Body Shop as one of the main drivers behind the group’s overall growth.

Peter Kropp, global director of The Body Shop at Home, one of the leaders who participated in the DSA survey, said: “One of the key reasons for growth has been the increasing appetite for side hustles and more entrepreneurial styles of working, which has helped to prompt a doubling in the size of our independent consultant salesforce in the UK over the last twelve months, to almost 16,000 people. In turn, this has helped to increase product sales, and 2019 continues to be a very strong year for The Body Shop at Home, with growth of approximately 50 per cent year on year since 2017.

“The Body Shop at Home occupies a unique space as a direct sales channel within an omnichannel environment comprised of retail, eCommerce and the direct sales channel. Following the acquisition of The Body Shop by Natura [in 2017], there has been a significant focus on developing the training and leadership skills of our independent sales consultants, and this has been a clear driver of our current success. Trends look to be sustained through 2019 and into 2020 despite challenging economic headwinds,” he concluded.

DSA director General Susannah Schofield OBE adds: “The current uncertainty on the high street is creating opportunities in other areas of the retail industry, and I predict that we’re set to see major disruption to the status quo.

“Direct-to-consumer retail is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this disruption, because not only does this style of shopping fulfil consumer demands for more personalised buying, but the sector’s self-employed salesforces are also being boosted by a new generation looking for more flexible, entrepreneurial ways of working.”

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