In a speech last night, the government warned that a second, stricter lockdown is set to be enforced in the UK as a safety measure against the spread of Covid-19. If the UK is to face another lockdown, as warned by prime minister Boris Johnson, the effects on the beauty sector would be hugely detrimental, especially having only been reopened for less than three months.
Such was the detriment to beauty businesses and employees during the 16-week lockdown earlier this year in which beauticians, nail technicians and hairdressers couldn’t work, The Telegraph launched the Why Can’t I Work campaign. It aimed to highlight the injustice that a sector completely prepared with PPE and extensive hygiene training was unable to reopen – and without any government help in the meantime – while pubs, barbers, gyms and restaurants were.
Even the current safety measures in place in the UK whereby parties, weddings and office work has been reduced, have proven damaging on beauty businesses which rely on presentation and the run up to Christmas.
‘We predict that the beauty industry will shrink by 30%, as 54% of employees in our industry are self-employed and ineligible for furlough,’ says Millie Kendall MBE of the British Beauty Council. ‘They won’t survive another lockdown. Beauty and salon retailers are already suffering in central London, Birmingham and Manchester. Salons, in particular, work in the same way as hotels, they have reduced occupancy with high rents and are having to work longer hours, 7 days a week to make the same money as before Covid, so any further restrictions will be crippling.’
According to a recent survey by the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF), between 20-31 August shows that despite re-opening at the beginning of July, three in four salons reported that business was down compared to the same period last year. Whilst many had yet to make redundancies, almost a third said they expected to cut staff in the next three months and 44% could not guarantee job security, while 41% could not say if their business would survive until Christmas. Staff across the beauty sector have seen their hours reduced by 74%.
If the sector is set to be shut down for another six months, the results would be catastrophic. Every area of the beauty sector would have to brace itself for another hit, from dentistry and facials, to nails and hair.
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‘For the four to six months that salons were closed, it cost salons an enormous amounts of money. We were closed for the longest amount of time but had the least amount of government help as we didn’t receive a VAT reduction like the hospitality industry,’ says Luke Hersheson from Hershesons hair salons. ‘Ever since salons reopened, trade has been down 30-50% down because the people just isn’t there, especially in city centres.
He adds, ‘the announcement of any further restrictions is going to make recovery increasingly difficult and based on my discussions with salon owners up and down the country, I expect to see a lot of salon closures by next year. Our blow dry bars are down 80% compared with pre-lockdown as hairstyling services are linked to going out to work and socialising. Without the office foot fall and the new pub and restaurant curfew, it is bad for business, unless there’s an extension to business rate reductions.’’
Shai Greenberg of Gielly Green salons launched a petition asking the government to consider reopening the hair industry due to overwhelming demand from customers and the sector being well prepared with PPE in place.
‘A further lockdown will damage the business completely,’ he confessed to The Telegraph. ‘Although the Government gave support, the majority of it was through loans that need to be paid back in just a few months, and a further lockdown will create even bigger shortfall in cash flow. Payments toward rents will also make it impossible to keep all the workforce, too. I really hope the government will act sensibly.’
London Grace is a stylish boutique nail salon with several London locations. It relies heavily on office footfall, and as such has expressed concern regarding a stricter lockdown or possible extension.
‘We’re very concerned about further restrictions and stricter lockdown measures as it would be difficult to imagine our business surviving another 6 months of no revenue, and without a substantial new financial support package from the government,’ a spokesperson told The Telegraph. ‘We have rent and bills to pay across our 10 stores and wages to cover for our team of 100 employees, so we simply can’t afford to go through the scenario again.’
When lockdown was first announced in March, dentistry was put into the beauty sector and closed, with emergency cases redirected to A&E wards or pop-up urgent care centres. The industry is still working through the backlog of cases from over lockdown.
Dr Emma Laing spoke to The Telegraph regarding the cost of the pandemic on dental clinics. ‘Figures have shown that more than half of UK dental practices (52%) relied on business loans to get through the pandemic. The pandemic cost so many practices so much, not least with the added PPE costs. If many practices have to close it will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on the nations dental health long term.
Dr Richard Pollock of the Chelsea Dental Clinic mimicked her concerns. ‘A lot of people have come in reporting that they couldn’t access their own dentist or NHS dentistry and they were in pain during lockdown, unable to get advice or help in most cases. The effects another lockdown would have on dentistry would be immense and more so on the patients, as we are still dealing with the backlog of patients who have been affected by the lapse on their treatments: some patients have had to have extractions as they couldn’t have their planned root canals. People who have had their crowns or bridges come out would have to wait weeks or months and live with big gaps in their mouths. This would be detrimental to their oral health and also their mental health, and social and mental wellbeing.’
Facialist Teresa Tarmey reopened in July following months in lockdown, and expressed her concern to The Telegraph regarding another.
‘There is no way I would survive another lockdown. It’s absolutely impossible, which means I would lose treatment business and my team. This doesn’t just impact me, either as my team includes a full time cleaner, a florist, a window cleaner, a small business for the windows and a maintenance person. I can’t see how other clinics would survive with the amount of self employed people out there with no help or furlough option. It’s a thriving industry already on its back side, not to mention the mental health impact on the therapists.
Fiona McIntosh runs Blow LTD, a bookable beauty service that offers nail and hair treatments. ‘We’ve worked so hard to have our hygiene protocols and PPE at a gold standard to keep our customers safe, and we have hospital grade sanitation in place. To penalise us now would be devastating,’ she told The Telegraph. ‘I’m so concerned for us – we’re a sector that employs a ton of working class women and freelancers, and most beauty businesses would be lucky to even emerge in six months if another lockdown goes ahead.’
Facial services were the last of the beauty services to reopen following the last lockdown, with eyebrow treatments on the list of banned services.
‘Just as customers build confidence and we begin to rebuild our business, it would send us on a backward trajectory and I am not sure that we could bounce back,’ confesses Vanita Parti, founder of BBB London. ‘Without extending furlough, it would be economic suicide. With sensible precautions in place, we should be able to run our businesses and be mindful of the virus.’