The second wave of COVID-19 infections that hit South Africa in December 2020 has adversely affected salon business, with client cancellations, depleted bookings and a drop in retail sales.
Says Helene Bramwell of The Mask in Parkview: “Having been in practice for more than 50 years, I’m dumb struck at the frightening effect this devastating virus has had on business. Clients are afraid to make appointments and their families are keeping the older clients at home. No matter how much we insist that our salon’s safety protocols are in strictly in place, the ‘fear factor’ is stopping many from making an appointment and understandably so. If I feel there is a resistance with any of my clients, I suggest they don’t make an appointment as there is no point having a client who is afraid, especially when we are offering care.”
Bramwell notes that turnover dropped about 70% over the festive season and clients have cut down on spend on products and treatments.
“Many believe that hiding behind the mask in some ways protects their skin, while we know better,” she comments. “My heart goes out to all those beauty professionals who have had to close their businesses, but I do believe the tide will turn once the virus is controlled. We just need patience and the ability to hang in there. My team and I are staying in regular touch with our clients in the meantime.”
Ayesha Rajah of Urban Glow in Emmarentia reports that while she had a good December (despite it being down on the previous year), January was ‘shocking’. She continues: “This is mostly because we enhanced our COVID-19 safety measures and told clients they could only come back 10 days after their holidays.
“This second wave has been terrible – we’ve heard from clients who have been infected, as well as their family members. Obviously our safety measures severely impacted the bottom line but the lives of my staff and family come first. I didn’t want to run the risk of having to close down the spa. Business picked up slightly in the third week of January.”
December was also bad for The Beauty Clinic in East London. Says co-owner Pieter Olivier: “Turnover was only 40% of the December 2019 figure and we hardly sold any gift vouchers, which are usually so popular during the holidays. Granted, we were operating with fewer therapists as some of them unfortunately got sick and had to stay away, but we went into January not having to phone one single supplier because we were still fully stocked. Most of our suppliers have been amazing and have agreed to payment plans. Some of them even provided us with extra gifts to give to clients. We hold an unusually large number of skincare brands and may have to drop two or three just to reduce our overheads.
“January was also very tough. On 1 February we introduced a gift voucher, where we basically gave away a lot of services. For just R650, we offered a facial, basic manicure & pedicure, neck & back massage and wash & blow. The response was great – we literally sold 16 gift vouchers by the next day.”
Esna Colyn, CEO of the Imbalie Beauty Group, reports that its Placecol, Dream Nails and Perfect 10 salons had recovered very well up to the commencement of the second wave. “Thereafter, our salons did experience many cancellations and no shows as a result of customers being exposed to other COVID-19 positive people,” states Colyn. “We traded down in January 2021 in comparison to the prior year, mainly as a result of customers being cautions and all working towards a reduction in the number of infections.”
Corli Schoeman’s team at Alchemy Skin & Body in Graaff-Reinet was on compulsory leave over the festive season. Says Schoeman: “Over December the majority of people in town escape the boiling Karoo in favour of a seaside break. We opened the salon in January, just before schools were supposed to go back and surprisingly, business was better than the same time in 2020.”
HEAL mobile spa services ran a few December/ January specials. “These did amazingly well under the circumstances, with a 10-15% discount on all treatments and products. We also launched a new concept just in time for Christmas called Mindful Gifting and managed to sign a few corporate deals where we supply these gift packages to clients,” notes Izandi Serdyn.
According to ESP’s Business Intelligence Wellness Industry Statistics, the beauty industry experienced an 8% decline in November 2020 compared to the same time last year.
Says ESP’s Arno Steijn: “As a whole revenue is down by 17% when comparing December 2020 to December 2019. What I would like to highlight here is that the number of clients visiting salons has been 25% less, which is the average for the last three months.
“We’ve seen that from July 2020 to December 2020 (month on month and year on year), the improvements are becoming smaller and more hard fought. If salon owners haven’t taken action in their business to increase the per-visit spend of the clients who are visiting then, then they are behind the curve.
“The above stats are drawn from the ESP client base that make use of our Business Intelligence service. These businesses owners are actively involved in their businesses and use the BI to track and understand the trends, which allows them to formulate and implement strategies that will make a meaningful difference to the bottom line.”
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