Businesses in the service industry, including nail and hair salons, dentists and other non-emergency healthcare businesses have been severely impacted by the stay at home orders. Unlike some stores or restaurants, who have been able to continue to operate their business to some degree, these type of businesses are not able to adapt their business model because these services require workers being too close to customers. Whether it is cutting hair, painting nails, cleaning teeth, or getting a medical physical, businesses that provide these services were almost entirely unable to be open since the US economy began to shut down. Due to COVID-19, according to McKinsey, the beauty industry which would include both nail and hair salons, could decline as much as 35% in in the United States. As for health and education jobs, an estimated 76,000 have been eliminated due to the virus, with 29,000 positions cut at dentists and physicians offices.
Due to the fact that in many states, these service-based businesses have been completely closed for almost two months, they are some of the first businesses that are getting licensed to reopen from the government in order to recoup lost income. In some states, such as Indiana, Utah, and Texas, nail and hair salons are able to reopen with some restrictions such as allowing customers by reservation only, reducing the number of customers inside at one time, increasing cleaning, and requiring masks.
Doctors offices, elective surgery that doesn’t require a hospital stay, and dental procedures have started to begin in some states such as Vermont, Virginia and Illinois. Some chain businesses, such as Van Michael salons, have set rules for all of their salons. These include a reduction of salon capacity to 50%, keeping stations six feet apart, taking temperatures of clients before entry, and providing protective equipment for everyone entering the store. In addition, the salons will not do blow drying which could cause germs to spread, and clients are asked to only bring their phone and their form of payment, no handbag.
Concerns About Reopening
The reason why these businesses were some of the first to be ordered to close is because of the need to be in very close proximity to be able to do the service. Unlike retail who can more or less successfully abide by social distancing of at least 6 feet or more, services that are more hands on can’t operate without physically touching the customer. This is where personal protective equipment, such as masks, will be critical to curb the spread of COVID-19. Even with the PPE, many are concerned that the opening back up of businesses like these will cause the infection and death rate to go up.
Another concern is if customers will come if businesses like this are open? With millions unemployed, many customers may choose to stay home for financial reasons or for fear of the spread of the fear. Many people are looking to hair salons to see what to do with their own businesses, as many states have included them in the first phase of reopening the economy. For those businesses who have already started to open back up, many have seen some eager customers but many have not due to not wanting to contract or spread COVID-19.
Allure, a personal care website, laid out some ways that customers can support their local salons in states that haven’t allowed the opening of nail or hair salons. Some tips include: customers can help by buying gift cards, tipping their hairstylist or your nail technician, purchasing products from the store, leaving a yelp review, sharing content on social media, or rescheduling for a later date.
As with all small businesses, those in the service industry are eligible to apply for a loan through the CARES act that can provide forgivable loans to small businesses with under 500 employees.