Salons and barber shops have seen a massive influx of clients upon their reopening last week, demonstrating the beginning of a V-shaped recovery that economists and business owners are hoping for in all industries following the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced close-contact businesses, including salons and barber shops, could reopen May 6 under guidelines listed in the state’s Tennessee Pledge document. Now, a week later, some business owners in this sector have more daily customers than their pre-COVID-19 highs.
“I think people are so happy to have a haircut,” said Ron Rowlett, owner of Roosters Men’s Grooming Center in Brentwood.
He shared as COVID-19 began to spread, even before his business was forced to close, he saw a major dip in customer traffic, causing a bit of unease and uncertainty moving into his grand reopening last week.
“We were getting maybe two or three (customers) a day when we were used to getting 15 to 20, 25,” he said about his shop prior to closing. “When word got out that we were opening and the salons were going to open, we started seeing a huge influx of appointments being made online, and for the first three days, we didn’t have a single opening … every hour was booked.”
He said now, even in spite of restrictions against beard trimmings and shaves — something Rowlett said is normally popular at his shop — Roosters is serving about 40 clients per day.
“Probably about 40% of those were new customers, which was amazing to us,” he said as the shop’s phone rang constantly in the background. “We were certainly happy to see new customers, but we never dreamed that it would be that large.”
He added a number of new clients are coming down from Nashville, where salons and barber shops remain closed.
Amber Ledgerwood, owner of StudiOneTwenty Salon in Franklin, said she has seen some clients from Nashville as well and that her shop has such high demand at the moment she is not able to fulfill every appointment request while keeping within the safety guidelines. She has had to either schedule farther out or turn people away. However, even with business booming, she said recovery won’t be immediate.
“To make up for being off for almost two months, it’s going to take us a while to catch up because we can’t all work at the same time,” she said.
Danielle Cohen-Shohet, cofounder and CEO of GlossGenius, said this is a trend she is seeing across the entire salon and spa industry in Tennessee.
GlossGenius is a national scheduling and analytics service for salons and spas serving more than 1,000 businesses in Tennessee. Cohen-Shohet said, since close-contact businesses reopened on May 6, Tennessee salons using GlossGenius had a surge in appointments that showed a 66% increase in demand compared to pre-COVID-19 highs. She added she sees similar results in other states that are reopening these businesses.
“Something that excites me about the data we’re seeing and, I guess, how much of the industry has navigated the depth of COVID — it just goes back to beauty being such a resilient, agile industry,” she said, pointing out the innovation many salons exhibited with online shops, product packages, beauty videos and more.
She said GlossGenius is seeing increased demand particularly in small, independent salons. She suggested this could be, in part, due to an increased sense of local pride or desire to support small businesses, but it is also likely because people are going to the places where there are less likely to be crowds of customers.
Cohen-Shohet does not expect a major lull after this spike in business but expects them to stay pretty busy.
“There are professionals that are trying to find ways to fit clients in, and they can’t. There are some professionals that are booked solid from now until end of June, and sometimes the earliest they can accommodate new clients is, like, July,” she said. “In two months’ time, people are going to need more haircuts.”
She suggested small salons make a few key adjustments to accommodate this demand surge: prioritize loyal clients, consider extending hours of operation and send a message to clients in advance about reopening conditions and expectations.
The Tennessee Pledge lists some expectations for customers, such as wearing masks during a haircut. Both Ledgerwood and Rowlett said they have small stocks of face masks for those who don’t come with one, and, though Ledgerwood said she had to turn away a couple customers who refused to wear a mask, both said most of their customers are happy to oblige by wearing the coverings while inside the shops.
“For the most part, I would say 99% of people understand it’s just a different time,” Rowlett said. “They’ve been extremely cooperative and have not really complained much. And there’s a lot of customers who really want us to have masks on, and they want to have masks on.”
Ledgerwood said amid this surge for salons and barber shops, she hopes people continue to take safety precautions.
“I just hope that everybody’s following the regulations,” she said. “We’re doing our part.”
For more information about the Tennessee Pledge guidelines, visit tnpledge.com. Information on GlossGenius, StudiOneTwenty and Roosters can be found at glossgenius.com, studioonetwenty.com, and roostersmgc.com, respectively.