Covid-19: how the Government is financially failing the beauty industry
I am, like many other beauty salon, spa and clinic owners, frustrated. Despite everything, I still don’t think the Government understands the measures our industry takes to protect customers – our infection control and hygiene standards are, and have always been, incredibly high – or what it takes to operate our businesses.
But, not only does the Government not understand how safe our industry is, they have also left us without adequate financial support during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Professional Beauty’s Face Value Survey, 78% of UK beauty businesses usually draw more than 50% of their revenue from face treatments, but for me, it’s 100% of my revenue. Therefore, the pandemic has hit my business hard.
What’s even more frustrating is that the Government seems to gloss over our work when considering how to structure the loans they give out to business sectors, and we, as an industry, have been left without a lifeline. Over the past five years, I’ve invested every penny I have back into my clinic Skin Genius in Warrington in order to expand, employ new staff and consistently provide the highest quality of service to my clients.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, my business was really picking up and 2020 was set to be a great year. Babtac recognised my hard work by awarding me with numerous titles and I recently won the My Face My Body Global Aesthetic Awards UK’s Aesthetic Therapist Category.
The financial cost of coronavirus
And now? I’ve lost £125,000 in revenue over the past five months. I have no savings to fall back on and, despite taking Government loans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s late announcement of when beauty can come back fully (originally it was meant to be August 1 but ended up being Aug 15) meant that I had no way to contact landlords and mortgage lenders to apply for additional financial help or payment holidays.
Initially, I was grateful for the £10,000 grant from the Government at the start of the pandemic, with the hope that we would be reopening with many other sectors on July 4 (the first reopen date of many given to our industry which failed to come to fruition). The £10,000 helped towards bills which I could not get payment holidays for and the rest I invested in getting the clinic Covid-19-ready.
However, I’ve had no option but to remain closed from late March to August 15, and with no other options to get any additional financial help to support my clinic through the past few months. The bounce-back loan was offered at a time when the industry believed it was set to reopen on August 1, and, since you’re only able to apply for this loan once, I am now left with very minimal support. I know that I will not be able to afford to pay my bills in September.
I’ve read about some clinics that ended up operating illegally just to keep their business and livelihoods afloat, and I don’t completely blame them. I have five members of staff on furlough and their payment was lowered to 60% of their salary in August. On top of existing revenue loss, our industry is not given compensation for any spoiled stock either.
My clinic lost at least £3,000 worth in skincare stock that went off, which oxidised during lockdown. To draw a comparison, pubs poured beer down the drains and the Government readily compensated them for their loss of stock. I also spent extra money for PPE at a time when the cost of PPE was highly inflated – back when the beauty industry in England thought that it was going to open on July 4.
Our industry is worth more than £30 billion and yet no efforts have been made to support or sustain it during this tough time. I think the Government needs to be interrogated for its reasoning behind why it was unable to offer us a clear timeline of reopening as well as how they are going to offer us more financial support.
If things stay as they have been and we have a second coronavirus lockdown, I’m sure that the beauty industry’s doors will be the first to close and the last to reopen. I know this could potentially mean my business won’t survive and I’m tired of watching everything that I have worked for crumble away in front of me.
Martine Jarman is an aesthetic therapist and owner of SkinGenius Clinic in Warrington.