At the start of 2019 Natural Products News conducted its sixth annual ‘Health Check’ survey of independent health food retailers in the UK.  The findings offer valuable insights for independent retailers and uncover some of the trends which are affecting sales on the shop floor.

Here, we pick out some of the highlights of this year’s survey.

What did we learn this year?

Through a combination of changing shopping habits, continued consumer interest in healthy lifestyle, the rise of veganism and shoppers actively seeking out more sustainable products, a high proportion of retailers continue to thrive. However, at the same time, a larger number of retailers than ever before are reporting a decrease in footfall, average customer spend and revenue.

A sustainable future

Green lifestyle and eco products have overtaken vegan products as the category with the most growth potential over the next 12 months – a trend typified by zero waste. Because of this, more stores are now identifying as Green Lifestyle Stores.

Younger customers

Savvy marketing through social media, high profile influencers endorsing healthy lifestyles and a generation of consumers seeking out more sustainable alternatives are helping to drive down the age of the average health store customer. As a result, 54% of retailers say the average age of their customers is becoming younger.

Stressed out customers are seeking out natural remedies

A younger customer base has also seen traditional health categories such as Bone & Joint Health and Digestive Health be replaced by Stress & Anxiety as the main driver of sales in store. This increase in customers seeking out natural remedies could also the be the reason behind the increase in shelf space for Supplements & Remedies (rising from 28% to 33%).

Independents looking for a point of difference

While quality of product is still the main motivation to stock a product (54%) more retailers than ever before say that being ‘exclusive to independents’ (20%) is the most important factor when choosing what to put on the shelf.

What best describes your store(s)?

Health Food Store – 66%

Healthy Lifestyle Store – 14%

Natural Food Store – 9%

Green Lifestyle Store – 5%

Organic Supermarket – 3%

Natural Beauty Store – 3%

There has been a significant increase in retailers embracing their sustainable values and identifying as Green Lifestyle Stores

What was your store revenue for 2018?

£25k – £100k – 20%

£100k – £250k – 33%

£250k – £500k – 19%

£500k – £1m – 12%

£1m – £2m – 11%

£2m+ – 5%

Average store revenue for 2018 was £491,797 – 0.25% down on 2017.

18% of retailers reported a drop in overall revenue in 2018.

Has footfall increased or decreased in the last 12 months?

Increased – 52%

Decreased – 29%

Stayed the same – 19%

The number of retailers reporting a decrease in footfall and average customer spend is at a six-year high


Which health issues/lifestyle factors are the biggest driver of sales in your store?

  1. Stress & Anxiety
  2. Sleep, stress & energy
  3. Digestive Health
  4. Bone & Joint Health
  5. Cold & Flu
  6. Women’s Health
  7. Allergy
  8. Brain Health
  9. Heart Health
  10. Diet & Weight Loss

What percentage of your store is given to which categories?

Food & Drink – 39%

Supplements & Remedies – 33%

Beauty – 14%

Eco/Household – 6%

Free From – 6%

Other – 2%

A significant amount of shelf space has returned to supplements and remedies.


Which category do you think offers the strongest growth potential for your store in the next 12 months?

  1. Green Lifestyle/Eco
  2. Vegan/Vegetarian
  3. Supplements/Remedies
  4. Organic
  5. Body care & Beauty
  6. Sports Nutrition
  7. Special Diet/Free From
  8. Fairtrade
  9. Raw Foods/Superfoods

What marketing activities do you currently use?

Social Media – 90%

In Store events – 70%

Store website – 54%

Local events – 41%

e-newsletter – 30%

PR – 13%

Press advertising – 11%

Of the retailers actively using social media 95% are using Facebook and 75% are using Instagram.

Download a PDF version of the full findings here – NPN – Health Check 2019.


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About the Author

Rosie Greenaway

With a background in writing editorial and creative content for the events, design, travel, food and wellbeing industries, Rosie now turns her focus towards the natural and organic sector as editor of Natural Products News and Natural Beauty News.

Articles by Rosie Greenaway
Rosie Greenaway
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