As English salons embark on a second national lockdown, we can reveal the effect that the Spring/Summer lockdown had on clients’ hairdressing habits.

In October 2020, I quizzed almost 250 people from 18-65 + about their relationship with their hair salon this year. And the results are in…

  • ONLY 64% of people have returned to the salon. While a further 16% have had a mobile hairdresser visit them.
  • 20% of people went back to a different salon to they had used before lockdown. This figure was higher in the 25-34 age group.
  • 83% of people say they expect to visit a hairdresser the same amount as they did before lockdown. 6% of people believe their frequency will increase.

There was some good news for salons, though. Despite numerous reports of a thriving underground salon trade during the enforced closures in the Spring and early Summer, only 1 person admitted they had sourced an illegal stylist.

What did people do with their hair during lockdown?

Other findings noted that there was no significant change in the services people visit the salon for, with cut and finish remaining the most popular. Around 62% have had their hair coloured professionally since salons re-opened (a very slight dip from 64%) prior to the lockdown.

Reasons for changing salons

When it comes to changing salons or considering a new salon, the key drivers are location and price – 69% and 67% of respondents respectively put them in their top 3 choices. These were followed by a recommendation and the services offered (46% and 42% respectively).

The salon’s values, refreshments and the digital offering (websites and social media) were much lower. However, younger people (18-34s) were more likely to say that social media and recommendations are their top reason to choose a new salon. They were also less likely to be concerned by safety measures.

Although less of a reason to change salons than price and location, a quarter of respondents did put Covid safety precautions as one of their top 3 potential considerations..

Other key findings

  • Most people are planning to return to salons as frequently as they were before, which is good news for the long term future of the industry. But with one third of people yet to return, salons continue to face a challenging time.
  • There is a smaller ‘heavy’ group of people (10%) that visit salons more regularly than every 6 weeks. Identifying these people, rewarding them and building long-term relationships represents a promising opportunity.
  • A significant minority of people who have not visited a salon since the first lockdown ended (20%) say it is because they have not needed to. This shows there is still a real need for more client education.
  • As with many retailers and services, location and price are key to pulling in new customers.
  • Covid safety is not ranked above other reasons like price and recommendations as a reason to change salons, however it is not one or the other. A covid-safe environment is not a driver of visitors in its own right but without good covid-procedures a significant proportion of customers will stay away.