Health conscious consumers and an ageing population are putting the emphasis on aids to make them feel good rather than cures to stop them feeling bad, say experts.
Sales of vitamins in chain stores and supermarkets have increased by 1.8 per cent to £362.7 million, according to analysts Kantar for The Grocer magazine.
In the process they have overtaken sales of headache tablets and other painkillers – collectively known as ‘oral analgesics – which have dipped by 0.7 per cent to £361.6 million.
The last time vitamins sold more than painkillers in the major chains was in 2005, said The Grocer.
Multivitamin tablets are now seen as a fairly normal, everyday aid to staying fit and healthy for many Brits who are a lot more aware of how important it is to balance their diet.
Hectic time-poor workers are buying them to make up for the deficiencies in vitamins from their hurried meals.
And Britain’s ageing population are also boosting sales by buying supplements that help alleviate or prevent joint and muscle strains.
The Grocer said: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away but it seems Brits believe a daily dose of vitamins could have the same effect.
“As lifestyles become increasingly hectic, Brits are choosing pills as their preferred nutrient source – or as a daily pick-me-up.”
A spokeswoman for Superdrug said: “Healthy living has become a big trend in recent times. We’ve seen customers consciously choosing to make healthy choices in their everyday lives.”
Supermarkets, particularly the budget chains such as Lidl and Aldi, have helped sales rise through price wars and their cheaper own brand versions.
Elizabeth Soar of Lidl said: “More people are taking vitamins due to hectic lifestyles and not getting their appropriate vitamin intake through food.”
And David Hamilton of Well, the new roll out for what used to be the 780-shop Co-op chain of chemists, said pharmacies were trying to make themselves ‘a place for people to go who are well, as well as sick.’