As a quick and cheap way to a healthy glow, fake tanning seemed the perfect answer to a series of washout summers, and sales have boomed in the recession. No more.

In stark contrast to the Towie-driven boom experienced the year before, sales of self-tanning products are down 20.8% in value and 12.7% by volume, according to Kantar Worldpanel [52 w/e 23 December 2012].

The decline may have been influenced by press reports linking chemicals in artificial tanning products to cancer and birth defects, but experts said poor weather and a lack of new product development were also to blame.

“When we experience poor weather women are less likely to want to use tanning products,” said Kantar Worldpanel consumer analyst Ashley Anzie.

“We have also missed groundbreaking new product development over the past couple of years. In 2011, L’Oreal and St Tropez introduced spray tans, and we also saw new competition from professional products like Fake Bake. This helped to energize the market. But sadly this wasn’t repeated in 2012.”

SymphonyIRI data suggests consumers were experimenting with cheaper alternatives, with a 3.9% fall in value sales accompanied by a volume increase of 6.4% [52 w/e 23 February 2013].

Leading brand St Moriz bucked the trend with a 20% volume increase. Marketing director Dawn McDaid said a lack of economic growth and the threat of a triple dip were still having an effect on consumer buying habits.

“St Moriz is in the enviable position of being an affordable, yet high quality, self-tanning option, so the current economic climate, if anything, is working for us rather than against us.”