Human hair grows at a rate of roughly half an inch per month, or six inches per year. For those of us who like to keep a lid on this growth and keep ourselves well-groomed, a haircut at any one of the UK’s tens of thousands of hairdressers or beauty salons is an obvious solution.
However, precisely these businesses have been hit hard by the lockdown restrictions. Even as many of them experience an uptick in demand for post-lockdown trims this month, many could collapse entirely, unless government support is offered in the coming months.
Salons get the chop
The hair and beauty industry is more than just a glossy sector with little substance. Keeping the population’s hair in check is serious business, with the hair and beauty industry generating revenues of roughly £6 billion per year before the pandemic. Between 35,000-70,000 beauty salons and hairdressers exist across the country, all starved of much-needed footfall throughout the pandemic.
Unlike many sectors which have the luxury of switching to online sales to make ends meet, the beauty industry is a very hands-on affair. A once-in-a-generation pandemic which limited the amount of human contact between people from different households for most of the last year was the worst possible thing to happen for these kinds of businesses.
The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) estimates that 10 per cent of businesses in the sector have closed their doors permanently since March 2020. Social distancing measures have meant that, even when fully open, salons have experienced a 70 per cent reduction in capacity. To make matters worse, low cashflow hits many beauty and hair-related service providers at a time when 60 per cent lack cash reserves.
That means that the lucky few have enough spare pennies to keep doors open properly when the pandemic is over, while the majority languish in a sluggish low-revenue state, on the road to full closure.
Need for government support
Without some form of financial support from the government, the hair and beauty industry is likely to see even more businesses close their doors for good. The NHBF reported in March 2021 that just 13 per cent of the £1.6 billion Allocation Restrictions Grant offered to local authorities had actually been handed down to businesses in desperate need.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NHBF, claimed: “The problem we have is that councils have been holding on to this money or setting the eligibility criteria too narrowly, meaning that the money is not getting to those that need it.”
Without further financial help, it is estimated that another 20 per cent of beauty salons and hairdressers could collapse by the end of April. By the end of 2021, the NHBF estimates that these venues will have lost an average of £41,000 each by year’s end.
When the dust settles, a growing queue of Brits eager to ditch their own homemade haircuts for the real thing will need to be serviced, but with fewer salons to make it happen. Spotted a salon or hairdresser near you in signs of distress? It could prove to be a lucrative acquisition waiting in the wings.