Covid-19 Effect: The Pandemic Has Changed the Salon Industry Forever! As salons hope to resume operation with the lockdown being lifted in many places, there is new hope for the industry of getting back to normal. However, the new normal is going to be different and many things will not remain the same as before

By Rochelle Chhabra

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With the announcement of the nationwide lockdown - which meant that citizens could step out of their houses for essential works only, the non-essential businesses were immediately shut down. Salons and other beauty services which came under non-essential services were the first ones to close their doors, leaving the industry deeply impacted.

As a result, the 500-billion-dollar global beauty industry with its annual rate of growth continuously pegged between 4% and 5%, is now expected to see a decline of 15%, as per BCG and McKinsey. However, the lockdown period has witnessed a surge in the online purchasing of DIY beauty products as consumers are trying to maintain their care routine and increasingly looking for options that fit into the parameters of social distancing and isolation. This trend is likely to continue even in the initial months after the lockdown is lifted as it will take time for customers to gain the confidence to resume their usual salon visits.

As salons hope to resume operation with the lockdown being lifted in many places, there is new hope for the industry of getting back to normal. However, the new normal is going to be different and many things will not remain the same as before. Close physical proximity which is an important aspect of salon work would be something people would be a bit apprehensive of until a vaccine is widely available. However, consumers are also unlikely to replace salon services with at-home treatments and will wait until they can be serviced by a professional. So, once the markets open, the demand for salon services is expected to increase rapidly and this is the juncture that salons must be most careful about and use effectively to earn customers' confidence. Some of the important points for salons to keep in mind include:

· Salons are to work on a minimum touch model

· Safety of clients should be ensured by managing the footfalls through pre-booking the appointments

· Keeping a tab on the customer's medical conditions before and after the visit through an on the spot, quick health and symptoms check using thermal scanners

· Safety of employees should be of high importance and must be ensured by working out timings and shift schedules, providing them with PPE's and proper training and technical know-how

Most importantly, the highest standard of sanitation and hygiene should be strictly maintained all the time along with following the WHO guidelines

While the effects of the COVID-19 and the resulting decline in business cannot be avoided, salons and beauty brands must take action and plan post-recovery business changes that can help mitigate the impacts in the near term. Salons and major beauty brands, including Streax Professional have already come up with a detailed safety and hygiene standard operating procedure. Through online training sessions and webinars, the brands are helping the participating stylists, salon partners and managers understand and be prepared for the upcoming situations.

COVID-19 crisis is the time of great disruption and uncertainty. Our ability to stay grounded in our sense of purpose and remain true to our identity is of the utmost importance during this period. A change in human behaviour and attitude is the best defence now and all efforts should aim at breaking the human transmissibility of COVID-19.

Rochelle Chhabra

Professional Division Head (Streax Professional), Hygienic Research Institute Pvt. Ltd

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