he spread of 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 of time, 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 closed 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.
This period of society lockdown under such stringent and forced conditions has caused people to look at things in a different light in so many aspects of their lives. Children’s education now switched to parent-led home-schooling, business meetings now taking place via video calling, and family relationships continuing without physical contact - it’s definitely a strange time, but also is giving us the opportunity to explore new ways of doing things.
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.
There are some establishments who have been able to switch to offering mobile appointments during this time, such as booking home visits for manicures, facials and haircuts etc. Whilst it’s a logical diversification strategy and 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.
The situation has certainly been able to shine a spotlight onto business resilience in so many different sectors – using the loss of earnings situation that businesses are left in to figure out who was prepared for adverse economic conditions and who is now left scrambling.
Many business owners are turning to mentors and business advisory boards to offer them with expert guidance and new solutions that may help them come out the other end with a business still surviving. Salons and barbershops have also been reaching to their suppliers to issue them with price freezes or reductions to help with expenses – tricky to achieve, as the suppliers are also in the same boat with struggling costs.
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, and 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. So many people staying at home social distancing are desperate to head back to the salon, the gym and the spa, and resume their normal routines once more. If we do our bit to support and sustain the industry, there’s no reason that success after coronavirus can’t be achieved.