Hair Salons Shuttered by the COVID-19 PandemicEver since March of 2020, many businesses have taken a massive hit due to the pandemic. From movie theatres to clothing stores to hair salons and nail salons, everyone was struggling. There were issues with lack of business, shortages, government-mandated closures, and even struggles with the supply chain. The pandemic causing quarantine throughout the world made it hard for businesses to thrive, with the lack of customers. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) studied almost 6,000 small businesses and how the pandemic impacted them. This study took place between March and April of 2020. There were many themes found from this study, two of them being mass layoffs and closures of the businesses.

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These issues arose just weeks after the pandemic struck. According to the survey “Across the full sample, 43% of businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all of these closures were due to COVID-19. Respondents that had temporarily closed largely pointed to reductions in demand and employee health concerns as the reasons for the closure, with disruptions in the supply chain being less of a factor. On average, the businesses reported having reduced their active employment by 39% since January” (Bartik PNAS). This was a terrifying time for all businesses, but the hair industry, in general, took a massive hit. According to bls.gov, “Forty-eight percent of establishments in arts, entertainment, and recreation, employing 1.6 million workers, experienced a government-mandated closure during the coronavirus pandemic. This was the highest rate of government-mandated closures of any industry” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Hair Salons Closed from PandemicAccording to the University of Houston, the pandemic has been the greatest challenge to the United States since World War II. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that this pandemic was just as detrimental to our economy as World War II. This study also found that one-third of stylists believed that it was not safe to stay open during the prime of the pandemic, but they had to reopen due to economic reasons; they thought they had no choice but to open. Unfortunately, the stimulus checks and government aid can only help for so long. Many stylists did not want to open back up, they tried to do what was best for our country, trying to stay home as much as possible and keep the COVID numbers low, but without having an income, this became impossible.

It may not seem as important to some as it is to others, but closed hair salons can affect a person’s day-to-day life. Self-care can help with everyday stresses and anxieties, and getting your hair done is one of these things. Of course, self-care plays a significant role in this, but keeping up with your appearance can help with self-esteem. Being happy with how you look or how your hair looks is vital in being able to be your best self. When you look good, you feel good; you can perform better in your daily life when you feel good. Hairstylists take pride in giving their clients the extra boost of self-confidence and source of self-care, even during the hardest of times. That could be for work, school, parenting, and just daily tasks. In short, quarantine and the pandemic affected the business side of the hair industry, but it also affected the consumers.

It is a known fact that the hair industry can be the most resilient even during economic downturns, but COVID-19 affected this industry more than ever. According to Refinery29, “in fact, the number of hairdressers, barbers, and the shops they work in grew by 8% from 2008 to 2009, according to The New York Times. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, hair salons were one of the few businesses that continued to draw in customers, even if they had to make personal sacrifices elsewhere to get their hair done” (Lesback Refinery29). 2007 and 2008 were the Global Financial Crisis that was caused by the deregulation in the financial industry. This proves how resilient the hair industry, and how vital it is to the people. It also shows how intensely quarantine affected this industry. The hair industry was especially hit so hard because of how intimate the job is. Stylists are so up close and personal to their clients; it is impossible to social distance in a scenario like this.

Salon's begin to re-openWhen stylists were allowed to reopen their salons a few months after the initial quarantine, many explained that it felt like they were opening a new salon. There were so many new rules and regulations they had to learn and adapt to. They now had to have fewer clients in the salon at one time, have mask mandates, even more, sanitizing than the usual, and spread apart the clients as much as possible. I know my favorite part of getting my hair done was talking with the stylists and other clients, and it is so much harder to do this now with the separation rules. But, of course, it is the least that we can do to help slow or stop the spread of covid; it is just a change that we must adapt to.

It is the hair industry that took a massive hit during this pandemic and the hair replacement industry. This industry was also negatively affected by COVID-19, in the same way, has hair salons and then some. They were experiencing fewer walk-in clients, store closures, and it has become immensely harder to obtain the hair for these transplants as they come from overseas. Since 2020, the hair loss industry has been struggling to receive the needed products and hair for their businesses, as most of this comes from Asia. As inflation continues to rise, more people are making budget cuts and cannot pay for elective procedures, like hair replacement procedures. I am sure that we all have experienced having to choose between two things to spend our money on, and this seems to be a trend more and more, considering the prices to pretty much everything is going up. We see it in our everyday purchases, gas prices are incredibly high, groceries are getting more expensive, and it is almost impossible to buy a used car right now. With everything going up, people are making the impossible decisions to take things out of their budgets. This directly impacts the hair industry and the hair replacement industry. While people are making these budget cuts to the less vital things in their lives, more clients are being slipped away. People working in the hair loss and hair industry need to be able to make changes to keep business afloat. It is vital to do everything that we can to keep our clients happy and to keep them our clients. We should be doing everything we can to keep them loyal to us, even in these challenging times.

Before the pandemic hit in March of 2020, China produced and exported 70% of the world’s hair systems. This caused many problems with the hair loss industry because they could no longer get their hair, as most people were getting it from China. In February of 2020, only 28% of hair orders were completed. This was a significant issue because, without the hair, there was little to no business. When they think of the effect of COVID-19 on business, most people lack customers due to stay-at-home mandates and self-quarantining, but for this industry, it was those problems, and then some. Getting the required hair and products is a vital part of this industry. There is some good news though, as of July of 2021, 92% of orders have now been completed. So there is hope for this industry; it is just taking so much time that many businesses do not have the means to wait for it to change for the better.

In conclusion, the pandemic affected us all dramatically in different ways. From salon owners to clients, it has changed things drastically. It is important to remember to do everything we can during this massive economic change to stay as normal as possible while adapting to these changes. Be understanding to clients; if they can’t do all the same services they used to do, listen to their concerns, and do everything you can to keep things regular. Eventually, something will come back together, and we will be able to live normally again, but it is just hard to say when that will be. So, it is vital to continue working to the best of your ability and giving your clients the best you can provide. Things in these industries have been slowly but surely improving, I know it is hard to be patient with this when this is our jobs, our livelihoods, but it is all that we can do.

Sources
Bartik, Alexander W., et al. “The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Business Outcomes and Expectations.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 28 July 2020, https://www.pnas.org/content/117/30/17656.

“The Effects of Covid-19 on the Texas Hair Care Industry.” The Effects of COVID-19 on the Texas Hair Care Industry – University of Houston, 3 Nov. 2021, https://uh.edu/hobby/salons/.

“Establishments That Continued Paying Employees Told Not to Work during the Pandemic.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 July 2021, https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2021/impact-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-on-businesses-and-employees-by-industry/home.htm.

Lebsack, Lexy. “Hairstylists Might Go Back to Work, but Their Jobs Will Never Be the Same.” Will Hair Salons Survive The Impact Of Coronavirus?, https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2020/04/9743450/hair-salon-industry-coronavirus-impact.

“Manufacturing Update.” HairDirect, https://www.hairdirect.com/coronavirus.