How Can You Help The Save Our Salons Campaign Right Now
The Save Our Salons Campaign is inspiring hairdressers on a local level to galvanise support and now you must do the same, explains Barrie Stephen, owner of Barrie Stephen Hair in Leicestershire who is taking action in his local area.
The Save Our Salons Campaign, which was founded by Hellen Ward at Richard Ward Hair & Spa, Toby Dicker at The Chapel, Luke Hersheson at Hersheson’s, Stephen Nurse at Daniel Galvin and Kim Clayton at Errol Douglas London is encouraging the entire UK hairdressing industry to take positive action and call for an immediate cut in VAT from 20% to 5%.
The global Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges for businesses across all sectors but the professional hairdressing industry, has been hit particularly hard. In fact, the Local Data Company has revealed thousands of salons are at risk of collapse due to the Coronavirus and 4,578 have already closed. The Save Our Salons Campaign provides salon owners with everything you need to find and write to your MP and lobby for this important tax cut.
How can you help the Save Our Salons Campaign right now?
As part of this campaign, the founders are asking the hairdressing industry to complete a short survey on how you have been affected by the pandemic. This can be completed anonymously but will be a huge help towards supporting the campaign by providing data to government about how our industry has been affected, and how badly.
To complete the short Save Our Salons survey please click here.
At saveoursalons.co.uk, you will also find a directory of MPs with their full contact details – choose the MPs in areas where you have salons. Download the template letter that sets out the argument for the VAT cut and customise it with your salon details. Then email and post the letter to your MP and share your letter on your social channels.
Hairdressing is one of the most heavily taxed industries on the high street, with around one-third of every £1 coming through the tills ending up being paid in tax. Most salons trade at between 3% and 5% profit (or £3 to £5 for every £100). For every £100 of revenue, a reduction in VAT to 5% would add £12 to salon takings – a lifesaver for all VAT-paying salons.
In a recent survey of 5,000 salons, conducted by the National Hair and Beauty Federation, 62% were unsure if their businesses would survive past the end of the financial year. It was further reported that 18% were sure they would close. The consequent social poverty for those who work within them, in particular women, will be a huge social casualty, with many having to fall back on benefits. According to an Economic Impact Assessment by the Hair and Barber Council (May 2019) 88.6% of this sector’s workforce are female.
Why is the Save Our Salons campaign so important?
Maria Evangelou, founder of the The Meraki Cabin explains: “The current VAT system for our service industry is a historical and inherited issue for the UK Government and can trip up the strongest of businesses and sharpest of minds. The pandemic has had a crippling effect on many trades and industries, and this is not exclusive to hair and beauty. However, the hospitality industry has had a reduction in VAT to 5%, so why not extend this to the salons that are at the centre of every high street?”
Maria says the impact of a 20% VAT rate in a service industry, even without the additional difficulties that the pandemic brings, does not take into consideration four fundamental facts:
- The major cost to the hair and beauty business is labour; this is a fixed cost on which VAT cannot be reclaimed as it can on goods (as is the case in other sectors)
- VAT is a consumer tax that is collected on the entire turnover at the threshold which equates to an immediate drop in revenues of £17,800. Service industries cannot easily make up the difference with this sum in technical salon services – such as cuts, colours, manicures, facials etc. The industry cannot take advantage of ‘Black Friday’ deals by selling in volume or online
- As the product is a 1-2-1 service, one stylist cannot service ten clients in an hour when salons are allowed to re-open due to the nature of the services being offered and a further reduction in capacity of clients (sales) with social distancing in place
- The increased business costs due to PPE, sanitising etc. mean business are operating in a time when they have to spend more money than ever but when their production is operating at the lowest capacity they have experienced – meaning the profit margin is squeezed more than ever.
What can you do to support the campaign in your local area?
Barrie Stephen, owner of Barrie Stephen Hair has his flagship salon in Leicester city. He explains his local area has never really been out of some version of lockdown and the introduction of the tier system in October 2020 had him waiting with bated breath to see if the salon would close again. In December, notoriously the busiest time of year for hair salons, Barrie had to shut his doors once more and didn’t know when he would be able to welcome clients back.
Barrie says: “As an independent business owner, it can feel like you’re out on a limb at the best of times, but during a global pandemic there’s an even heavier weight on your shoulders to protect the business for your employees and customers. When I learned about the Save Our Salons campaign, it felt like someone was reaching out their hand and saying – we’re in this together.”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Barrie saw the campaign as an opportunity to take action on a local level with the determination to create national support for salons at this critical time.
“I started with a letter to my local MP, using the template and information provided on the Save Our Salons website, followed by contacting local media about the campaign – a quick Google should serve up the contacts you need. From here, interest peaked, and I was invited to speak on local radio and regional TV, supported by Hellen and Toby, explains Barrie.
Barrie also shared news about the campaign on social media. He found it to be a great way to raise awareness of the campaign, not only amongst hair industry professionals but other local businesses in the area.
“My advice is this – you may feel like one person or one salon but it’s always worth doing something rather than nothing. Don’t forget, the nature of our job means that we are empathetic, passionate and great communicators. These are the exact skills we need to get the message of the campaign across to those in power. We are a tenacious bunch, brimming with creativity and if we harness these innate talents, we really can make a difference.”
What is the background behind the Save Our Salons campaign?
Save Our Salons is the next stage in the #ChopTheVAT campaign, which launched in 2020 and was championed by the beauty director at The Telegraph, Sonia Haria alongside professional trade bodies. It provides an opportunity for salon owners to unite behind the cause by engaging in positive direct action.
Prior to Coronavirus, the hairdressing and beauty industry was a strong and growing industry, generating £9.2bn annually and employing 288,160, according to the Office for National Statistics (March 2020). Now, the majority of hair and beauty professionals are struggling to recoup their losses from lockdowns, implementing social distancing measures and the costs of increased PPE. By the end of March 2021, the sector will have been closed for a minimum of 240 days, yet has not received any additional financial support, such as those gifted to the arts, the sports sector, leisure or hospitality. Financial help to salons and professionals during this difficult time will be the only way to ensure that hairdressing can return to where it was at the beginning of 2020.
Go to www.saveoursalons.co.uk and follow the six simple steps to campaign for what is fair and right for UK hairdressing.