Sector Spotlight: The Hair and Beauty Sector Gets Ready for a Post-Covid Comeback

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Running a hair franchise or a beauty business during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough. Mandatory closures have massively impacted business, and many changes have been required to the day-to-day of stylists as they comply with new guidelines. As the UK economy reopens, so do hair and beauty salons. But how will they make their post-Covid comeback?

Going from 0 to 100 is never easy, but that’s the situation for the hair sector right now. After one too many DIY beauty treatments and lopsided haircuts, there’s growing public demand for a professional touch, and bookings are extending far into the future. In this article, we’ll dive into the hair and beauty sector’s plan of action, moving forwards.

How will hair and beauty businesses make a comeback post-COVID?

There are two key dates for hair and beauty businesses to bear in mind:

  • April 12th - On this date, non-essential retailers were able to re-open, including “personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons” [UK Government], including those provided from a mobile setting. Restrictions around social distancing and mask-wearing remained in place.

  • Not before June 21st - Venues like nightclubs will be able to re-open, limits on social contact will end, and life will return largely to normal. It’s hoped that restrictions around social distancing and mask-wearing could be removed at this point, though nothing is guaranteed.

Here are the adjustments that hair and beauty franchises have had to make to the way they work in order to bring themselves in line with government guidelines:

  • No waiting areas. Many customers are asked to turn up at their appointment time, or wait outside the salon until that precise time.

  • Hygiene and sanitisation. Hygiene processes have been updated. Disposable items are replaced between customers, and surfaces are regularly wiped down.

  • Appointment-only. As only a certain amount of customers can be in the salon at any one time, walk-ins are unavailable, and hair and beauty appointments must be made in advance.

  • Social distancing maintained in the salon. Customers must be seated at least a metre from each other during their time in the salon.

  • PPE and masks. Staff must wear protective PPE, and customers must wear masks unless they have a reason for exemption.

  • Ventilation. Where possible, doors and windows must be left open to increase air flow.

  • Perspex screens. Some reception areas may choose to install perspex screens to increase safety on both sides during customer interactions.

  • Card only. No cash payments accepted to prevent the spread of germs and streamline the payment process.

  • None of the additional offerings. No magazines, food or drink on offer.

  • Certain treatments might not be on offer. Some treatments might be deemed too high-risk. For example, a beauty treatment that requires close proximity between technician and customer for an extended period of time might not be possible right now. However, since ‘close contact’ services have been given the green light to resume, this will be left up to individual businesses.

Customer demand ahead of the hair and beauty sector comeback

On average, people go for a haircut every six to eight weeks [Good Housekeeping]. In the past year, this regularity has often been made impossible by closures imposed on hair salon franchises. Similarly, many have had to attempt home beauty treatments they’d usually leave to professionals, like waxing and applying acrylics.

It comes as no surprise, then, that come April 12th, hairdressers and beauty salons were booked solid. In fact, just 24 hours after the government laid out their Covid roadmap in February, giving members of the public a concrete date to look forward to, beauty booking service Treatwell saw a 432% spike in bookings [Stylist].

The hair and beauty sector remains booked solid, and customer demand doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. In the coming months, workers in this sector will be hard at work, attempting to repair the damage inflicted by such a patchy year. To adhere to distancing guidelines, many businesses are working at 70% of their pre-pandemic capacity [Marie Claire], and the biggest concern moving forwards will be ability to meet demand. 

Hair and beauty sector trends amid the UK reopening

After time away, many customers have returned to salons more adventurous than ever. But others have embraced their natural look, after growing comfortable with it during one of the several lockdowns.

Something was taken away that had been taken for granted. And that made people question: Did they want their hair like that? Did they want that kind of high consumerism? I think this has really given us a time to pause. There’s a rethink about how people want to look, how they want to spend their time, how they want to spend their money.
—Josh Wood, hair colour expert and founder of Josh Wood colour

These directional changes are touched upon in this Point Franchise article, discussing the state of franchising in the hair, beauty and cosmetics sector in 2021.

Still, Wood isn’t worried that this shift will impact the hair and beauty sector too negatively. Demand remains strong, even when styles and preferences change. In early April, he described the rush to make bookings as a “stampede beyond belief” [The Guardian]. 

What government support is still available for businesses in the hair and beauty sector?

For many hair and beauty businesses, the process of bouncing back from losses suffered during the pandemic will take some time. Here are the government support packages still available:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme  (open until September 2021)

  • The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

  • The Vat Deferral New Payment Scheme (open until the 21st June 2021)

  • Business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year covering retail, hospitality and leisure companies in England

  • The Recovery Loan Scheme

  • The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • The Coronavirus Restart Grant

  • The Coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant

  • The Local Restrictions Support Grants

Franchising in a post-Covid world

Running a franchise in a post-Covid world comes with many unique challenges that might not have arisen in 2019. Discover invaluable insights, helpful guidance and success stories by checking out Point Franchise’s catalogue of articles. If you’re interested in franchising - in the hair and beauty sector or beyond - discover our UK franchise directory

>> Read more articles on the Beauty Salon sector

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