Vaping Retains Top Spot as UK's Fastest Growing Retail Category

For the second straight year, vaping emerged as the fastest growing UK retail category according to new data. Explore the consumer shifts influencing sales.

Vaping Retains Top Spot as UK's Fastest Growing Retail Category

For the second consecutive year, vaping secured the #1 ranking as the fastest expanding retail category across the United Kingdom. New research from NielsenIQ revealed vaping value sales rocketed by £897.4 million over the past year. The phenomenal increase builds on the category's existing momentum.

Specific vaping brands posted astronomical gains, dominating the overall rankings of fastest growing products. Relative newcomer Lost Mary captured the top spot with sales leaping by £310.6 million. In second place, Elf Bars increased sales by £273 million, while falling to third place year-over-year.

These figures showcase vaping's staggering rise. However, the breakneck pace also brings struggles for manufacturers in keeping up with demand and remaining compliant. Tighter regulations surrounding vaping frequently enter public debate. Still, consumer enthusiasm persists thanks to vaping's increasing popularity as a smoking alternative.

Shifting Shopping Habits Amid Economic Pressures

Per Nielsen data, 2022's inflation crisis triggered shifts in consumer shopping patterns. Shoppers demonstrated a renewed emphasis on staple categories like fresh meat, dairy, chocolate, and biscuits. Simultaneously, they reduced spend on perceived indulgences like alcohol, spirits, champagne, cider, and meat alternatives.

While rising costs generated overall value growth for basics like milk, cheese, poultry and beef, volumes actually declined. This exemplifies the current dynamic where products' monetary value climbs but purchase frequency drops as budgets tighten among cash-strapped consumers.

In this environment, affordability reigned supreme. People sought ways to treat themselves economically, evidenced by growth in areas like vaping and bagged snacks. Meanwhile, steep alcohol pricing restricted category sales.

Own-Label Brands Achieve Record Success

Own-label sales volumes rose substantially across many retail categories. Coupled with discount retailers' ongoing expansion, this illustrates shoppers' embrace of lower-priced alternatives.

However, the pendulum started to swing back toward brands offering increased promotions to entice purchase intent and loyalty. With inflation projected to ease moving forward, reduced prices and improved innovation seem likely in 2024.