There’s no denying that the pandemic has been tough on the hair and beauty industry. Unfortunately, as great as technology is, it’s not yet possible to have a haircut or manicure online or by Zoom and, for salons, closed doors have meant that salons have been without income for several months.
A business built on touch
As restrictions begin to lift, there’s still no real normal for salons as many are operating at a reduction – sometimes up to 30% – in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. For salon owners, margins tend to be pretty tight and, many make between 5% and 6% on a full book – something which, for the moment, is simply not possible. In the meantime, overheads such as rent, contracts and utility bills don’t go away.
Resuscitating salons post-pandemic
We’ve now reached a stage where our salons are open once again and it’s time to see how things have shaken out. Historically, hair salons have managed to ride the wave of tough times extremely well – for example, during the 2008 recession, salons saw little change in their fortunes. Salon owner, Wall-Innella said at that time, “People find the money. They won’t pay the mortgage, but they’ll get their hair done”.
A recession is a time to tighten your belt but, what about a pandemic? In the past, small, independent salons have tended to lose out during times of hardship and, so, let’s take a look at how the pandemic has impacted on independents vs larger chain salons:
David and Goliath
By December 2020, 4,578 hair and beauty salons closed for good in the UK due to the pandemic and the early signs are that the majority of these were small independents – and there are a couple of reasons for this:
Banking on survival
Although franchise and chain salons such as Headmasters and Toni & Guy have taken a hit during lockdown, these huge brands tend to have enough in the coffers to weather the storm. Although there may have been some closures, the brands will generally bounce back pretty quickly. Small, indie salons, on the other hand, usually operate month to month and will rarely have the cash cushion available to allow them to survive.
Pivoting the pampering
Brands such as Toni & Guy have their own range of products which are sold in supermarkets and as upsells in their salons. These brands were able to pivot their businesses during COVID-19 by selling their products online and by creating affiliate programs to drum up more sales. This is, unfortunately, a luxury that smaller salons don’t share.
When it comes to bouncing back from the pandemic, a lot of customers will be disappointed to find that their favourite local salon may no longer be trading. Thankfully, however, a great many salons have been able to make it through due to business interruption loans. While times will still be difficult due to social distancing, Booksy’s salon scheduling and management app can be a lifeline for smaller salons. Booksy allows for online booking of appointments which makes life simpler for customers – but that’s not all. For small salon owners, the app’s management and marketing features are a fantastic solution in helping them optimise their capacity and easily manage inventory and promotions.
As we head into summer, we’ll also be heading back to our salons and, the great news is that communities have already begun to rally around to support those plucky independents as they get ready to start afresh.