Sizzling sun cream sales warm recovery at Boots

Sizzling sun cream sales push trade at Boots back above pre-pandemic levels for the first time

Surging sun cream demand this summer pushed sales at Boots back above pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

Heatwaves and pent up demand for beach breaks led to what the High Street chemist called a ‘two bottle summer’ – with sun cream sales more than twice as high as last year.

The group’s own-brand sun cream Soltan had its biggest week of sales in July since 2013.

Summer essentials: Boots’s own-brand sun cream Soltan had its biggest week of sales in July since 2013

Boots was also boosted by the return to office working as it saw a surge in shoppers at its city centre stores.

And it was helped by the easing of pandemic travel restrictions as sales jumped at its airport and train station shops.

Overall, sales at the chemist rose by a fifth in the three months to August 31, compared with a year earlier. That left sales 15.2 per cent higher than in the same period before Covid struck.

It was the first time that Boots had topped pre-Covid sales after struggling with empty high streets and a drop-off in demand for beauty products.

The update came after the chain’s American owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) ditched a plan to sell the UK business amid turmoil in financial markets.

WBA has promised to continue investing in the High Street chain despite its attempts to sell it to India’s Reliance Industries and US private equity giant Apollo Global. And the strong performance by Boots contributed to a 65 per cent jump in full-year profits at WBA.

Boots boss Sebastian James said the results were ‘really encouraging’. Boots is the biggest seller of beauty products in the UK and said it extended its lead in the last quarter. 

It has introduced 25 beauty brands in the past year, including Unilever’s REN and L’Oreal’s Armani Beauty.

It also played a key role in the UK’s pandemic response, offering Covid tests and vaccines. Its pharmacy sales slipped compared with last year as the vaccine rollout tapered off and fewer sought tests for the virus.

And as households across the UK face rising food and energy bills and a squeeze on incomes, Boots launched an ‘everyday’ range of low-priced essentials. 

The 60-strong range, which includes toiletries, skincare, dental, haircare and period products, is priced from 50p to £1.50. 

James said it is selling ‘very well’. As families kick off Christmas shopping early to spread the cost, he added: ‘There is definitely going to be a focus on value this Christmas.’