New data shows the party isn’t over for Tupperware-style startups

New data released today by the UK Direct Selling Association (DSA) has outlined a significant (36.4%) increase in the number of people joining direct selling brands in the first quarter of the year as people seek to boost household incomes amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

An estimated 500,000 people in the UK work as independent salespeople in the direct selling sector (which includes brands such as Avon, The Body Shop and Usborne Books), with the majority (64%) doing so as a side hustle alongside another job and working less than ten hours per week (42%), mostly in the evening (37%).

Almost a fifth (19%) of those with direct selling side hustles work in healthcare, and 15% work in education. The average amount earned through direct selling is £481 per month, with most (64%) reporting that they scale their side hustle up or down to suit how much they want to earn each month, or to work around other commitments.

The increase in the first quarter of 2023 is being attributed to people needing to offset the rising cost-of-living and looking for ways to earn additional household income without the need to commute or pay for additional childcare. Thirty-eight percent of consultants reported that one of the main drivers for taking up this type of side hustle was to be able to work from home.

Susannah Schofield OBE, Director General of the Direct Selling Association, said: “Direct selling is a retail channel that traditionally performs well in challenging economic times – not least because people look for flexible ways to boost household income without incurring additional costs, such as commuting or childcare. This, combined with people choosing to treat themselves to lower cost luxuries during times of financial uncertainty – the Lipstick Effect – is expected to drive sales in the sector in 2023.”

Cliff Jones, DSA Chair and Sales Director at The 1:1 Diet, a former Employee-Owned business of the year which has seen one of the largest increases, adds: “We have seen a 134% increase in new Consultants joining our business in the first three months of 2023 compared to the previous quarter, and we’re already starting to see small green shoots in terms of impact on sales.

“It is clear that increasing numbers of people are now actively looking for ways to offset the rising cost of living, but in a way which is flexible and home-based.”

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Direct Selling Association (DSA)

Direct Selling is the UK's largest provider of part-time earning opportunities. It is a flexible option for 500,000 people in the UK, allowing them to run their own business around existing commitments, putting in the hours they choose.

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