More than one million people have delayed booking their summer holidays because of the war in Iraq, so UK retailers should be preparing to cash in on what could be a lucrative summer season here at home.

In the past year, 45% of the UK population has bought some form of summer health product.

But although there is more custom to be gained, grocers are not naturally the first in line to take it.

A combination of the ‘pharmacy-only’ licence for the majority of hayfever products, and pharmacy’s traditional positioning as the supplier of prescription and OTC summer health products and advice, has allowed Boots to grab 41% of the summer health market.

This year, however, there are new fields to explore, and the most fertile has to be hayfever.

Even though last year’s poor summer forced a 4% slump in the value of the total market [IMS Health], grocers managed to increase their share by 12% as seven-tablet packs of hayfever remedies were released onto general, self-selection sale.

The market looks set for even more growth as key ingredients come off patent, allowing own label to prosper, and key players such as GSK’s Beconase nasal spray, the leading OTC nasal spray, to join the tablets on general sale.

For further information see this week’s Focus On Summer Health in The Grocer magazine.