Beauty salons keeping British high streets alive

Beauty salons and tattoo parlours have flourished on British High Streets while banks and department stores decline, according to BBC analysis.

The full extent of changes to Britain's High Streets after two years of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have been revealed in the data from Ordnance Survey. 

Overall, there were 9,300 fewer retail outlets in March 2022 than March 2020, as shoppers switched to online stores. The findings illustrate the changing face of the UK High Street. From a place to buy things to a place to do stuff - such as get a manicure and meet friends for a coffee or cocktail.

High Streets and shopping centres have become a big draw for hair and beauty services in the past few years with an additional 5,100 premises now operating compared with pre-pandemic - an increase of 5.9%.

In the G1 and G2 postcodes of central Glasgow, hair and beauty services are now the prevailing type of business - overtaking pubs and bars which were the most prevalent in March 2020.

This data comes from BBC analysis of 1.5 million records contained in the Ordnance Survey's "Points of Interest" mapping data, a quarterly survey of businesses, facilities and services operating in England, Scotland and Wales.

Tattoo parlours and piercing studios have become notably popular with 350 more in March this year than before the Covid-19 restrictions - a rise of 8.2%. Many areas of the UK have gained one of these types of businesses for the first time.

Sheffield had 15 more tattoo parlours in March 2022, Kingston upon Hull had 11 more, while Stockport and Cornwall each had an extra 10. 

Debenhams and Beales were among the landmark High Street retailers to close their doors during the pandemic, contributing to a 13.4% drop in department stores across Great Britain. Two years on from the first lockdown in 2020, there were 328 fewer of these stores.

Meanwhile, the number of clothes shops operating in Britain is down 4,300, a fall of 8.5%. The fall of the Arcadia retail empire saw Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Topshop and Miss Selfridge disappear from our shopping streets in 2020.

Over 800 High Street banks and building societies closed their doors during the pandemic (-8.1%) along with the loss of more than 6,000 cash machines (-13.2%). 

These changes suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the move away from physical cash-based retail to card-based online shopping. 

Have you been seeing more beauty salons on your High Street in the past few years? Let us know in the comments...