Majority of Salons Report Changes to Business Model Due to the Pandemic

COVID-19 has changed the beauty industry in what seems to be a lasting way. To better understand what’s happening in the market, American Salon surveyed its audience. The first American Salon Business Sentiment Survey was conducted between May 23 and June 27, 2022. Of the 417 responses received, 57.55 percent were salon owners/managers, 23.02 percent were independent contractors, 6.25 percent were salon employees and 13.19 percent identified as “Other,” ranging from educators, retired salon owners and “working owners.”

When asked if there have been changes to the salon business model in reaction to the challenges of the pandemic, the responses were split nearly down the middle—50.97 percent said yes while 49.03 percent said no. Below, we break down what those business model changes are and why they were made.

Shorter Hours, Higher Prices

One popular adjustment among salons is shortening hours of operation while increasing prices, ultimately seeing fewer clients a day but making the same or more profit. This includes some salons discontinuing evening appointments.  As one salon owner put it, “Now it’s my business—not my charity.” To help justify new prices to clients, some owners say that they have made services more individualized, exclusive and specialized. Meanwhile, some owners are no longer double booking for social distancing and sanitization purposes. Others say the decrease in number of bookings is because they simply can’t find the staff to support this schedule.

Changes to Services

When it comes to the service menu, salons across the board reported adjustments. Some salons shared that they’ve streamlined service offerings, removing those that weren’t profitable—one went so far as to remove all spa treatments to focus solely on hair. Another salon expanded the service menu, including options like express color, to offer a variety of price points, appeal to a wider range of clientele and encourage more regular visits to the salon.

Pivot Toward Digital Sales

Another common change salons have made is looking to digital sales rather than in-salon sales. This includes enhancing the e-commerce options on salon sites to allow clients to order products from the salon to their homes. Digital marketing has also been a big focus for many salons, hoping to attract new clientele to the salon.

Shifting to Booth Rentals

Keeping with a trend that has been increasing over the past decade, many beauty professionals wrote in saying that after the pandemic, they opted to rent a booth, chair or suite rather than be staffed at a salon. Likewise, many salon owners commented that they now offer chair rentals to stylists, whereas in the past they required them to be on staff. This is due to a lack of staff in certain instances, but some owners shared that they closed their multi-chair salons to open a private space because guests felt more comfortable in a less crowded, more private environment.

In response, one salon owner now offers a sliding scale commission structure to compete with solo suites and attract full-time staff.

Similarly, some stylists have left salon spaces entirely and are operating out of their homes, eliminating rent. Others are completely mobile, making house calls only.

In our next exclusive report culled from the American Salon Business Sentiment Survey, read about how salons are finding new talent at a time when labor shortages for all industries are a major challenge.