The coronavirus has changed the lives of people across the world and affected businesses in almost every sector. With people forced to work from home and all non-essential services closed for an undefined period, it’s caused an unprecedented global effect that most people have never witnessed before in their lifetimes.
With specific regard to the hair and beauty industry, the pandemic has had a monumental impact. All salons, barbers, spas, gyms and wellbeing service providers that have been forced to close have left business owners unaware for how long that will be and thinking very deeply about how to survive through it and safeguard their businesses.
Life in Lockdown
From a consumer’s point of view, staying at home and abiding by social distancing regulations means a rethinking of ways to keep themselves looking and feeling good without relying on the resources they’d normally use.
That could involve attempting independent hair colouring for the first time instead of visiting the hair salons, switching to home facials and skincare regimes instead of visiting a spa, creating a home exercise regime instead of working out in a gym, and much more besides. It has meant consumers have been forced to research best practices, explore suitable alternatives and generally get creative with ways to look and feel good while staying safe at home.
Businesses in Trouble
For the businesses owners operating in the hair and beauty sector, finding that originality and innovation will be a testament of their leadership and a test of whether they ultimately sink or swim in this crisis.
The lockdown has caused most to start with furloughing staff and in some cases layoff completely. There are zero consumer bookings being made at this time and, with their own weekly finances under immense scrutiny and pressure, many will be considering an increase of their prices and trying to find ways of finding alternative revenue somehow whilst cutting existing costs.
Some establishments have been able to switch to offering mobile appointments during this time, such as booking home visits for manicures, facials and haircuts etc. While it’s a logical diversification strategy and a potential source of much-needed income, it’s not an easy one to carry out due to concerns about adhering to social distancing. Hygiene standards and infection control practices are already so heavily under a microscope in this industry under normal conditions, so a potential spread of the virus through personal interaction wouldn’t make mobile appointments any easier.
Help on Hand
In the wake of COVID-19, the government are trying to do all they can to not only financially support businesses struggling at the moment but also offer some guidance and additional resources to get them back on their feet. Interviews with both businesses and customer can help establish what’s needed specifically and as a matter of priority.
Following on from the 2020 Budget the Government announced on March 18 that it has extended the financial support available to beauty salons and spas:
- No business rates for salons of any size, not just those with a rateable value below £51,000
- Businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 can access an additional cash grant of up to £25,000
- Businesses that don’t pay business rates (because they benefit from small business rates relief) will see the £3,000 cash grant announced in last week’s Budget extended to £10,000
- Three-month mortgage holidays for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus
- Private renters will be protected with new legislation that will protect them from eviction
- Business loans on “attractive terms”, including a business interruption loan scheme which will provide loans of up to £5m, interest-free for six months.
“The Government has promised some welcome relief for businesses which will struggle to survive under the latest measures to control the spread of coronavirus,” said Ian Egerton, National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) president.
The main assistance that can help this industry is the help and support of the community around them. The hair and beauty market is a people-centric business, made successful by people and providing for the people. The players in this sector need to step up to do more to support each other, forgoing competition in place of survival.
There are several platforms (e.g. Treatwell) doing great work to lead the efforts as well as various petitions circulating to draw awareness to this issue and ask consumers for their help in keeping the sector alive.
L.D.C Leisure and Retail Report stated in 2019 that the hair and beauty sector remains “one of the go-to sectors on the high street”. It is certainly recognised as the beating heart of social activity, keeping consumers looking and feeling good. Most would agree that businesses in this sector have a higher rate of survival. We hope that businesses come out the other side of this crisis stronger, more resilient and more profitable than ever before.