Indian beauty salons fight haircut delivery services


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Indian beauty salons, already hit by the devastating second wave of Covid-19 in the country, now face a related setback: customers who increasingly find alternatives to venturing into a pandemic.

Self-employed landlords struggle to find rent and pay salaries as fewer clients walk through their doors. “There’s hardly any business now,” said Malti Chauhan, 45, who runs a one-room salon in New Delhi. Before the pandemic, Chauhan used to earn over 50,000 rupees per month ($ 684), but now she is doing on less than half of that.

Indian salons are mostly small, privately owned and often not officially registered. Together, they form a sector that would be worth 100 billion rupees.

“This industry has suffered a lot because it is based on a ‘personal touch’ which is now avoided due to the virus,” said Chauhan, who had to fire her only part-time assistant. “Now I only get a handful of clients and try to run the salon on my own, although it may not be long before I’m forced [to] completely shut down the business.

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The situation set in with the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections in April and May, forcing salons, spas and even outdoor facilities to close. As of August 24, the cumulative number of infections in the country stood at 32.6 million, with 436,861 deaths.

But the number of daily cases is now declining, which has allowed businesses in most parts of the country to return to near normalcy. At the height of its second wave of Covid-19 in May, India was recording more than 400,000 confirmed daily infections – far more than the peak of 97,000 per day in September 2020 – but the numbers have fallen sharply in recent weeks and remain below 50,000 per day.

But there has been little relief for the salons or their former workers, many of whom are now looking for jobs in other fields.

One of the offspring of the area is Zaid Khan, 30, who is the sole breadwinner in an extended family that includes his parents, wife, two young children and two brothers in college. “I was working at a top notch salon in Delhi, where I got 80,000 rupees a month,” Khan said, adding that he is now trying to make ends meet by working freelance.

“The salon, which was located in a prime locality in the nation’s capital where renting reached nearly one million rupees per month, was not earning enough money to cover all overhead costs, including our salaries, and has been forced to shut down, “he said.

The still scratching beauty institutes are now facing a new challenge: the increasingly popular start-ups that offer home care.

“I haven’t been to a salon since the pandemic started last year,” said Shashi Sharma, 51, a teacher who now prefers to call a beautician at her home through the Urban home services platform. Company. “A home salon is a safer and cheaper option.”

Sharma said she was paying over 2,000 rupees for a pre-Covid facial, but now receives the same service at home for 600 rupees.

Deepa Prasad is among those who have joined the ranks of take-out beauticians. “The workflow here depends on customer feedback,” said Prasad, 31, mother of a 9-year-old boy. Just one negative comment about her work on social media, she said, could cause her to lose clients.

While salon delivery treatments are now preferred, the broader beauty and personal care market, which includes cosmetics and products related to skin and hair care, is also growing.

According to Statista, the overall market is worth $ 26.85 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 8.5% from 2021 to 2025. The largest segment is personal care with $ 12.26 billion.

By comparison, the U.S. beauty and personal care market is the largest in the world, generating $ 82.3 billion annually, according to Statista data.

Nykaa, a leading online beauty and personal care supplier who is also India’s only profitable unicorn, or a startup valued at over $ 1 billion, recently filed a misleading flyer project for an initial public offering and plans to raise 5.25 billion rupees through a new share issue.

For young consumers, Nykaa has become a one-stop-shop that meets almost all of their beauty and personal care needs. “Since the pandemic hit, I have mainly relied on online shopping for cosmetics and other personal care products,” said Sonakshi, a 22-year-old student in New Delhi. She added that she does most of her shopping from Nykaa, as it offers a variety of international brands.

A version of this article was first published by Nikkei Asia on August 29, 2021. © 2021 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved

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