Just prior to government’s announcement on 11 June that South Africa had officially entered the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, salons and spas were reporting reasonable business.
CEO of the Sorbet Group of salons, Linda Sinclair, noted that trade from January 2021 had picked up and foot traffic in store had increased for beauty and grooming services.
“Male grooming has performed ahead of female beauty, with requests for not only hair but also for facials, pedicures and other grooming services. Sales for our retail and self-care at home personal regimes continue to increase,” stated Sinclair.
Esna Colyn, CEO of Imbalie Beauty Limited (encompassing the Placecol, Perfect 10 and Dream Nails salons), revealed that there had been an increase in the number of customers visiting their beauty salons in the larger malls.
“However, business has still been very hard for small business owners and it’s a slow recovery. As expected, we are still experiencing the ‘hangover’ from COVID-19 in the market place. Many beauty salons had to incur debt last year when their doors were closed for the 87 days of lockdown.”
All spas in the Amani Group are currently operating but at short-time/ reduced hours.
Says Amani’s group operations manager, Julie van Rooyen: “Our spas in Pilanesberg (North West Province) have been our best performers to date and we are definitely seeing a steady increase in business in this region. From January to March, they averaged 82% of revenue turnover for the same period in 2020. Then from April to May, they averaged 138% of revenue turnover for the same period in 2019, but then 2019 had been our worst year in the five years preceding.”
According to Van Rooyen, the Amani spas in Sabi Sabi (Mpumalanga/ Kruger Park) have been struggling, largely due to very strict (more so than other lodges) COVID regulations.
“This includes staff having a mandatory 5-day isolation period after returning from off days, which impacts roster scheduling and the number of therapists available at any given time. They are currently maintaining two therapists per shift, rotating every 25 days. It’s also important to note that they traditionally catered for the international and ultra-high end South African market.
“Our Cape Town spa has also been having a hard time getting back on its feet but is seeing some progress. We find that while weekends are busy, week days are definitely quieter, in spite of various really good specials and reduced rates,” explains Van Rooyen.
Full capacity at weekends
Seasons Spa in Hartbeespoort has been running at 95% to 100% occupancy from Fridays to Sundays, with the entire team of 18 therapists and three supervisors on duty.
Spa manager Leandra Olivier points out that weeks are usually slower, operating at about 65% occupancy, with half the team on duty. “We are very lucky in the sense that we have stayed consistently busy since February this year. Our spa does run a little differently now as we have almost completely moved away from only having our spa menu, to running most of our business through spa packages. These packages change every month or so and we have found that this works best for us, as our clientele are those wanting to get away from the city for a spa day. So by changing the packages up every month, it allows guests to keep coming back and not get bored with the same treatment over and over again. We personalise the packages according to what guests are wanting and requesting that particular month.”
After being closed since lockdown commenced last year in late March, The Saxon Spa reopened on 1 May 2021 to full bookings.
Spa manager, Tanya Lopes, noted that as an entire property, The Saxon has invested a lot in marketing. She continues: “It’s clearly paid off as not only do we have our regular, pre-pandemic guests coming back to us, but we’ve had new guests through the doors as well. Each day I have to turn down bookings as we have to restrict the number of guests in the spa at any one time. Even the Saxon Hotel is doing well – they are seeing a lot of guests from Johannesburg book in, as well as a fair amount of international guests.
“The spa has made some changes to its offering, such as inserting a 10-minute mindfulness session into every treatment. There are four different audio mindfulness programmes for the client to choose from, and they are integrated into the audio system in each room.”
Lopes has also introduced some new treatments to the spa menu, including The Saxon Digital Detox, where the guest consciously chooses to be separated from their digital devices, that way forcing them to be in the present moment.
“We have changed the way we do consultations with clients on arrival, in that apart from the standard medical consult, we also use the Global Wellness Day’s 5 Pillars of Wellness to ask questions about the client’s lifestyle.” (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)