by Gary Kelly

With many salons in the UK having been closed for up to 8 months out of the last 12, the reopening of hair salons across England on 12th April saw a further move towards normality, in a country which has experienced highly effective, yet strict lockdown measures alongside an outstandingly successful vaccine rollout.

According to the most recent government briefings, the UK’s COVID roadmap out of lockdown is going according to plan. Britons are pro-vaccine, highly dismissive of anti-vaxxers and undeterred by the rumour-mill of blood-clots and side-effects, so with over 62% of the UK’s adult population now having received at least their first dose of a vaccine and the 15th April target of vaccinating 32 million of the population reached several days in advance, a wave of optimism that this relaxation of restrictions will be ‘irreversible’ is continuing to grow. That’s certainly the case in our industry, where salons and barbershops have wasted no time in reopening their doors and the pre-booking of appointments means that columns are fully booked out for at least the next 3 to 4 weeks – some for even longer. Some of the most sought after hair professionals are reporting that they’re fully booked out until the end of May. Anyone without an appointment who is hoping to get their hair done anytime soon is really going to struggle! However long it takes to complete this long-awaiting campaign to ‘shear the heads of the nation’, the psychological uplift it will have to both hair & beauty business and their clients is proving to be huge and immeasurable

In a weekend when the number of COVID-related deaths for the most recent 24-hour period was reported as seven, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, did away with the mind-numbing slogans and urged an overwhelmingly libertarian UK population – already exhausted by endless restrictions on their civil liberties – to continue to ‘behave responsibly’; advice that perhaps, for once, actually does set the right tone. This is a Prime Minister who must be ever-mindful of the floundering state of our national economy, so along with Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, he’ll be hoping that the opening of hair salons – taking place in tandem with non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality – should result in giving businesses and our country’s balance sheet a much-needed kickstart over the coming weeks. Consumers fortunate enough to have remained in employment over the past year have spent much less than they normally would have done, resulting in not only a huge pent up desire to go out and spend, but also the financial wherewithal to do so. What effect all this will have on infection rates, nobody knows, but with modelling by University College London (UCL) reporting an estimated 73.4% of the UK population now carrying COVID antibodies either by way of vaccination or pre-existing immunity after infection, our burning desire to get back to normal is understandable, to say the very least.

With reports already coming in of marathon 12-hour shifts and some salons even having opened their doors at midnight on opening day, here’s to a tired but very happy UK hair and beauty industry, back doing what it loves the most – making people look and feel wonderful!