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Our beloved industry isn’t what it once was
After the initial surge of appointments post third national lockdown, clients have not returned to the hair and beauty sector in the same number as before the pandemic, particularly in the beauty sector where trade relies on client experience and social events like holidays, a prompt to see these services. Clients are now leaving longer between appointment times or adopting a more DIY approach due to having to use their initiative during the lockdowns. The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF)’s latest survey, ‘State of the Industry,’ reports that trade is down for 3 in 5 beauty businesses.
While most restrictions have now been lifted, people are still cautious about attending appointments. The continuing requirement for social distancing rules and enforcement of close-contact guidance is significantly affecting business recovery and the ability to return to profit. The NHBF reports that 47% of businesses are just about breaking even, while 1 in 4 are sadly not making any kind of profit at all.
Government support for the sector has been slowly but surely decreasing since 1 July and will continue to do so even though businesses aren’t ready for that to happen. Operational restrictions, no cash reserves and significant debt will remain a hindrance for profitability and income generation. As of May 2021, 16% of the industry has been lost to the crisis, as reported by The Local Data Company. This percentage will rise if the Government proceeds in removing support before the sector is ready, while women and young people will continue to be the most affected as they are heavily represented in the industry.
The NHBF’s ‘State of the Industry’ Survey reports that 28% of the sector remains completely dependent on government support to be able to open its doors. This rises to 36% when solely looking at the beauty sector. Only 1 in 5 businesses overall are no longer reliant on financial help to continue trading. Most survey respondents have benefitted from and are still relying on funds from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, furlough, Additional Restrictions Grants, bounce back loans, and business rates relief. Sadly, a significant proportion of those who selected ‘Other’ responded that, to date, they have still received no support whatsoever.
In the current circumstances, 14% of respondents have been forced to make redundancies and 62% have cut staff hours. The main worries troubling respondents are clients coming back (57%), their own mental health and that of their staff (52%), paying bills each month (51%) and having no savings left to draw on should another lockdown occur (49%).
Overall, the industry is still in a very fragile position and complete care is needed on the road to recovery. Businesses will continue to struggle if support is removed while social distancing measures and close-contact guidance are still at play. To help businesses, survey respondents want to see easier access to support grants should they struggle to recover in the next six months (52%).
An initiative such as the Job Retention Bonus would help in addressing this issue whilst businesses are not fully operational. However, the scheme was shelved when the furlough was extended through further lockdowns. The NHBF and Maire Claire UK believe that this bonus should be reintroduced as the autumn/winter season approaches and furlough tapers off. The initiative is an absolute must in getting our beloved beauty industry to bounce back.
Now, what can you do to help? Marie Claire’s Beauty & Style Director Lisa Oxenham suggests, “Firstly, book that salon appointment. Whether it’s your hair, nails or waxing your eyebrows, a simple treatment will do wonders for your mental health as well as actively help the industry. And if you want to get really serious, write a letter to your local council or MP expressing your worries for the hair and beauty sector and suggesting the reintroduction of the Job Retention Bonus.”