The pingdemic is ‘a nightmare’ says leading beauty industry group, as salon bookings take a hit

Andrew M. Santos

The British Beauty Council estimate at least two appointments a day in salons are being cancelled due to rules around track and trace. Although set to change on August 16, at which point double-jabbed contacts of positive covid cases will not have to self-isolate, for many small businesses in the hair and beauty industry the ‘pingdemic’ has caused many businesses to suffer. 

In a new survey by the National Hair and Beauty Federation, it was found that business is down for three in every five beauty businesses, with more than a third completely reliant on government support to remain in business. Three in four businesses have been forced to cut staff hours.

‘Track and trace is a nightmare, and it’s becoming an increasing problem,’ says Helena Grzerk, chief operating officer of the British Beauty Council, one of the industry’s leading bodies. ‘Smaller businesses with three or four staff can end up having to cancel guests and close, and freelance practitioners have to cancel all of their work.’ 

For the London-based facialist Teresa Tarmey, this week alone she has gone from a fully-booked schedule down to 20 per cent capacity. ‘We have had a really bad week, I’ve had so many clients that have had to self-isolate, it’s been a disaster. 

‘I have stuck by every rule but I think it is ridiculous if I am in a venue with four floors and pop in for a cup of tea, if someone I didn’t even come into contact with tests positive I could potentially have to self-isolate for ten days and lose thousands of pounds in work. It’s making me feel very anxious.’

Salons are already operating at reduced capacity. According to the British Beauty Council, the estimated reduced capacity is presently 30 per cent (50 per cent in spas) due to social distancing restrictions on occupancy and compliance to operate within the guidance. The National Hair and Beauty Federation reported businesses were operating at 70 per cent pre-Covid levels.

As Grzerk explains, the issue is made worse for businesses by the fact that a large proportion of the workforce in beauty business are between the ages of 18 and 30. ‘It will be a number of months before our workforce is double vaccinated and able to operate within the new rules. This exposes the personal care sector / hair and beauty salons to the disruption of test and trace self-isolation for a prolonged period of time, putting huge strain on salon owners.’

For the owner of DermaSpa in Milton Keynes, Nilam Holmes, she has on average one in every four appointments cancelled due to track and trace, and also has two members of staff currently self-isolating. ‘This self-isolating rule is going to wreck our businesses,’ she says.

‘I have rarely been out socially this whole time because I don’t want to take the risk of having to self-isolate and be off work, but that isn’t a way to live. It makes no sense to me when we have vaccinations and tests.’ 

What have your experiences been like of salons recently? Tell us in the comments section below 
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