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Coronavirus lockdown impact: Missing your parlour appointments? They miss you too, as salon business takes a hit

"For an industry that is based on human interaction and touch, salons have been greatly affected,” said Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO of Lakme Lever

April 14, 2020 / 02:00 PM IST
UrbanClap | Headcount: 1,300 | Headquarters: Gurugram | Year founded: 2014 | According to LinkedIn, business has returned to pre-COVID levels for the company, driven by its home-based grooming, appliance repair and maintenance services. (Representative image)

UrbanClap | Headcount: 1,300 | Headquarters: Gurugram | Year founded: 2014 | According to LinkedIn, business has returned to pre-COVID levels for the company, driven by its home-based grooming, appliance repair and maintenance services. (Representative image)


Do you know what many women are wondering in the current lockdown? How to get their eyebrows done.

One Twitterati said, "My eyes are hidden under bushmen eyebrows."

Even men are taking to social media to express their distress of struggling with no hair cuts.

Journalist Sreenivasan Jain took to Twitter asking if haircut can be declared an essential service. Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot replied to Jain, saying he gave himself a haircut at home and botched it up.

While all this may not seem necessary, there's an entire industry that earns from offering these services.

Beauty parlours, that were seeing some footfalls in January and February this year, are now running dry.

“For an industry that is based on human interaction and touch, salons have been greatly affected,” Pushkaraj Shenai, CEO, Lakme Lever, told Moneycontrol.

He said that employees at Lakme salons were checked for symptoms. They wore masks in the salon. Hand sanitizers were placed at the entry and spots around the salon for customers to use.  "We started deep cleaning the salons twice a day. We had also reduced hours of operation before the lock down," he said.

Yet, the company saw drop in traffic before the lockdown as people had started taking social distancing precautions early on.

Lakme Lever, which has more than 490 salons across the country, first saw a drop in footfalls in areas where cases were beginning to emerge like Delhi, Kerala.

So, reviving consumer confidence will be one big challenge for the beauty industry.

If a big chain like Lakme is feeling the pinch, the loss is countless for independent parlours.

Dhiraj Kumar, who runs a parlour called D Triple One Hair, Beauty & Spa in Mumbai’s Goregaon East, said while business was good in January and February, the number of clients started dropping in the first week of March.

“When the traffic is heavy, we serve as many as 10 to 15 clients in a day and earn around Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000. However, March onwards (before the lockdown), the number of clients came down to as low as one or two,” he said.

He added that while he was able to pay salaries to his staff which consists of two people, there are many he is aware of in the business who either had to take pay cuts or received no salary at all.

He also pointed out that even when business resumes, it will take time for people to come to parlours. “People may only come for things that they cannot do at home. May be hair cut or hair colour. Rest of the beauty treatment people might just do at home,” he said.

The corona impact on beauty business is across geographies.

Jessi, who owns a beauty parlour in Chennai, said in January, existing clients continued to come but there were no new clients.

“From February, my parlour business came to a standstill as customers had stopped coming. Three of my bridal bookings were cancelled. Each of the bookings could have given me around Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000,” she said.

She added that last year, between January and June, the business was going strong. “As many as 30 to 50 customers would come to the parlour in a day. I used to easily do three to five bridal appointments in a month. Now, all this has gone,” she said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Uma Devi, who has a parlour called Alangar in Chennai, said, “We provide home service. We lost that business from February this year. We even offer home services for old people like acupuncture. But for that too, I did not get bookings from February.”

Devi, who was able to serve as many as 15 customers in a day last December, saw the footfalls going down to five to 10 in January and February this year, which further dropped in March.

When asked about revival of the business, none of them showed confidence.

Jessi said, “Until April, we don’t see any hopes of revival. Plus, customer psychology is unpredictable. So, even after the lockdown, I am not sure how many people will take up beauty services in a parlour.”

Shenai added, “The industry is a big employer, especially for women. Since talent is an important resource in this business, it will be imperative for the government to step forward and support the industry with steps to engage talent, simplify approvals, help with liquidity in the short term and stimulate consumer demand by lowering the GST slab (the Goods and Services Tax rate applicable for beauty parlour services is 18 percent).”
Maryam Farooqui
first published: Apr 9, 2020 07:36 pm