Beauty treatments contributed more than £1bn to UK GDP last year

Spending on beauty services in the UK reached £1.4 billion in 2018, contributing to the beauty industry’s overall value to the economy of £28.4bn. 

The figures come from a report by Oxford Economics and commissioned by The British Beauty Council, an organisation founded to represent the industry. 

The beauty industry’s total contribution to UK GDP in 2018 – including not just treatment providers but also retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers – was worth £28.4bn, equating to 1.3% of the UK’s total GDP and equivalent to all the economic activity in Manchester or Glasgow last year. 

Beauty and hair service providers made the largest direct contribution to GDP of the different segments, totalling £4.7bn. Beauty and holistic service providers specifically contributed £1.4bn.

Spending on solely beauty services was £1.4bn for the year; out of a total spend on services of £8bn. 

Alongside beauty, the report breaks down service spend into hair and holistic treatments. Hair services had the highest spend at £6.3bn, and consumers spent £240 million on holistic treatments. 

The report also looked at the industry’s employment rates and found it directly employed 370,200 people in 2018 – equating to 1.1% of all the employment in the UK and more than the numbers employed in the legal industry or social work sector. 

The largest beauty industry employment share came from service providers such as beauty and hair salons and spas, employing 150,300 people, 33% of the total. 32,600 people were employed in beauty and holistic services specifically.

The report recognised the production potential of the services sector in relation to the wide range of education entry pathways, including NVQ, diploma and certificate qualifications. 

There was a total of 15,840 beauty therapy qualifications achieved in 2018, 14,955 that covered multiple disciplines, 5,585 in nail care, 4,370 make-up and 1,170 defined as “other” beauty. 

56% of these were at Level 2 and 29% at Level 3. In addition, in the 2017/18 academic year there were 1,305 people studying a beauty-related university degree, with 50% studying salon management and 45% studying spa management. 


Other research released in May showed salons were the fastest growing businesses on high streets in 2018, despite tough trading conditions.