With Tuesday 23rd March marking the sombre one-year anniversary of the UK’s covid lockdown, hairdressing is gearing up for the reopening of salons and the hairdressing industry. Following nearly a year of erratic information with endless opening and closing, the beauty sector is finally set to open its doors next month.
Whilst the beauty business largely remained closed for the duration of lockdown, many took to home dye kits and d.i.y cuts to see them through. The desperation to maintain our beauty regimes saw thousands of people turn to the internet for advice with the number of Google searches for ‘DIY Beauty Treatments’ quadrupling between March to April 2020, amassing more than a million related queries. This surge translates into high street sales too, with data from IMRG (the UK’s industry association for online retail) showing that sales of beauty products during the week commencing 15th March 2020 increased by 31.6% year-on-year. As millions were reluctantly reintroduced to their natural hair colour, box dye supplies quickly sold out with sales skyrocketing by 76%.
Data from one of the world's biggest cosmetic groups, L’Oreal, suggest all is not lost. As many businesses failed to keep their heads above water during the unprecedented pandemic, L’Oreal reported a high-than-expected growth in revenue. Earnings at luxury retailers and beauty companies were dented by the closure of airports duty-free shops and high street stores, with a stay at home policy and the introduction of face coverings reducing the demand for makeup. Despite this, cosmetic groups benefited from a demand for hair care, skincare and at-home pampering treatments. Sales of skincare and haircare products were up a whopping 234%, while vitamin-C product sales were up 248%.
Signalling that of the ‘Roaring 20s’, L’Oreal witnessed a post-pandemic drive. As salons reopen and life begins to return to a somewhat normal, will hair care keep its pandemic momentum?
As the countdown to April 12th begins, will consumer habits change within the hairdressing sector? Will we all flock to the salon for a fresh trim, or will we continue our home hair care routines?
In the face of an ongoing global pandemic, grooming may seem like a superficial issue to get worked up over, but in a world that is weighted on physical attributes, who can blame us? As Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character says in Fleabag: “Hair is everything.”
The consumer’s salon experience will almost definitely be altered. Many people rely on a trip to the hairdressers as a comforting source of self-care and community. Having a cuppa and chit chat with your stylist may be your only source of socialisation. Taking this into consideration, adhering to the government's guidelines and strict covid measures will be a big change. We are all adapting to a new way of life.
Every aspect of hairdressing and the salon experience will be affected. Many have adopted an appointment only policy, limiting certain services (for example no dry cuts or blow drys), with no friends, children or pets able to tag along and some salons even advising washing your hair prior to a visit. No sitting down to read a gossip mag whilst you wait your turn, or popping in for a quick trim whilst you're out and about. Lesley Blair, Chair of the British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology, states the salon experience will become very rigid. A colour, cut then out. “They may stop the nice cup of tea you enjoy prior to/during your treatment. There may be no magazines, no paper, no leaflets; that will all go away. It’ll be very stark.”
Whilst a restriction of beverages and magazines may not seem significant in ensuring a safe environment, post covid pricing may impact hairdressing consumers. Costing in PPE and staggered appointments, the hairdressing industry may bear witness to a price increase. With all of covid’s furloughs and redundancies, will the consumer still have the funds to splurge on a salon visit, or will their priorities now differ?
Clare Varga, the Head of Beauty at WGSN, predicts that most beauty fans will be forced to reassess their needs amid the fear of future outbreaks and financial woes, causing the surge in DIY beauty treatments to continue long after the coronavirus crisis abates.
what is essential? Vs what is dispensable?
After being deemed ‘non-essential’ by Boris Johnson back in March last year, the hairdressing industry really has faced the brunt of the covid pandemic. Several jokes have been made suggesting that if the Prime Minister were a woman, the hairdressing and personal care industry would have been considered a more essential sector (and swifter reopening) than that of car dealerships etc.
Latest figures from the National Health and Beauty Federation show that hair salons, beauty salons and barbershops turn over £7.5bn per year in the UK alone. Having been forced to close their doors for a number of months, a spokesperson confirms this means that during lockdown the beauty industry has suffered catastrophic losses of approximately £1.75bn in turnover.
Despite receiving some government funding and handouts, the Telegraph reported a whopping 4,758 hairdressers and salons have closed for good since the start of the pandemic. For the fortunate businesses that managed to stay afloat, covid provided an obligatory opportunity to spring clean your salon.
Both for staff and clients alike, stepping foot back in the salon will feel like a luxury. Whilst the forced hairdressing hiatus encouraged us all to spruce up our hair care routines, it in no way replaces the feel-good feeling of a professional cut. Predictions suggest a trip to the salon will be top of our lists for April 2021.