The Direct Selling Association has seen a surge in the number of people signing up to work for such companies, while sales of products sold this way have also soared during the period. Usborne Books at Home, the home-selling division of the children’s publisher, reported a 104 per cent increase in new salespeople joining its business in March and April compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile premium hair and skincare brand MONAT, which sells exclusively via 'direct to consumer' sales, reported a 300 per cent increase in new partners joining its business in the UK and Europe since the start of lockdown.
Susannah Schofield, director general of the Direct Selling Association, said: “The closure of retail stores in March led to our members reporting early increases in sales via Direct to Consumer channels as shoppers turned to alternative forms of retail. Now many brands are reporting that sales are being further bolstered through April and into May by an increased appetite for side hustle-style earning as people look to supplement household incomes amidst the economic uncertainty.”
She added: “Despite the likelihood that DTC channels may experience some degree of tail-off from recent peaks once other retail channels start to resume, we expect that DTC sales will continue to be sustained at higher levels compared to pre-COVID as people continue to supplement their income longer-term, particularly given the broader economic outlook.”
Peter Kropp, global director at The Body Shop at Home, the group’s direct selling division, said: “We have seen strong growth in the numbers of people both joining and re-joining the business since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. As well as helping to fulfil the recent increase in consumer demand that we’ve seen, this boost to our independent salesforce is also driving new product sales as greater numbers of people showcase and sell our ranges. The current growth is very strong and we’re now building on the momentum in the six months prior to the start of the COVID lockdown."
The most recent figures, taken before lockdown, show that approximately 563,000 people earn money through direct to consumer selling, usually on a part-time basis to supplement household incomes. The average amount earned in the UK through direct selling is £373 per month.