The British spend more per person on health and beauty products than any other EU country, according to new research from Verdict.
The report - European Health & Beauty Retailers 2008 - found that the average UK consumer spends 375 euros a year, which is almost 50 per cent more each year than the Spanish and 43 per cent more than the average European.
France came second in the poll (327 euros), followed by Italy (305 euros), Germany (289 euros) and the Netherlands (280 euros).
The UK's high level of spend per head can be attributed to easy access to a wide selection of healthy and beauty products, a strong consumer appetite for innovative and upmarket items, plus a shift to more premium, higher priced product. This high level of spending combines with its large population to make the UK the second biggest market for health and beauty products in Europe, behind Germany.
In terms of retailers, of the top six health and beauty specialists only one - Alliance Boots - is from the UK. German firms dominate the leader board, with four of the top six coming from the country. The leading retailer is Hong Kong based AS Watson.
Verdict also found that Romania, Estonia and Latvia have seen the fastest growth within the sector, albeit from small bases.
Spain has been the fastest growing of the major EU markets, meanwhile, with Spanish category expenditure increasing by almost a third between 2002 and 2007 - more than twice the rate of any other major market. This has been drievn by strong economic growth with Spanish GDP rising 44.0 per cent over the period.