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What Will Salons and Spas Look Like When We're Vaccinated?

By Lisa Starr

January 25, 2024

Last summer, beauty professionals were wondering if clients would ever return, especially for non-essential services. Happily, clients have shown how important beauty and grooming treatments are in their wellness routines. Many are thinking wellness and self-care are more important than ever.

Across most of the United States, spas and salons are settling into a new normal of operations. This new normal may include taking guests' temperature upon arrival, mask-wearing by everyone, frequent hand-sanitizing, and continued social distancing. Some locations are still experiencing capacity restrictions, or have self-imposed these, in order to accommodate additional sanitization between clients.

But one thing is common coast-to-coast despite all of this; many salons and spas are as busy as they can possibly be. Even with reduced operating hours or number of staff, many locations are reporting revenues equal to—or in some cases—in excess of pre-pandemic levels.

Consumers are eager to return to their normal routines

At the end of February, as COVID-19 vaccines became more readily available, Mindbody surveyed over 1,000 US consumers about returning to in-person wellness services, and the results were very encouraging. In fact, 23% of consumers plan on visiting spas and 24% plan on visiting salons more. People are eager to return to their self-care routines; 65% of those who are more inclined to visit spas said they want to relieve stress, 60% to pamper themselves, and 53% to look and feel good. The number one reason for wanting to spend more time at a salon or barbershop? Sixty-five percent said they want to return to their "normal" routine from before the pandemic.

Nearly a quarter of consumers plan to visit salons and spas more.

Nearly half of consumers are still worried about cleanliness

Now is not time to relax any COVID-related safety and hygiene standards just yet. As the country continues to climb back out of the COVID-19 trough with cautious optimism, it will be crucial for business managers to find the right mix of pre-pandemic habits and post-pandemic considerations to ensure that guests continue to feel safe. While salons and spas have always been extremely clean and operate with hygienic protocols, plan on continuing to make those efforts visible to the guest. It's still critical that salon and spa clients feel safe.

When queried about concerns for resuming typical pre-COVID activities, 68% said they still had concerns about cleanliness in salons, and 69% said they still had concerns about cleanliness in spas. Salons and spas need to continue hand sanitizing, frequent disinfecting of high-contact surfaces, and social distancing measures.

Beauty and wellness businesses should go digital where they can

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift to the digital world. Expect this emphasis on technology to continue. Tasks that have a perceived safety factor that also add convenience like online booking, curbside pickup for retail sales, and contactless payments (including tips) within facilities, should continue to be embraced. Virtual consultations, although early in the adoption curve now, will become more common.

The service and treatment menu is vital

A business's service and treatment menu remains one of the most important marketing tools. Whether it's printed or digital, make sure the offerings feel fresh. When still operating with lingering restrictions, it’s acceptable to have a few services, like a 30-minute massage, that are in your system and you can provide, but aren’t included on your public-facing menu. Just make sure that you have a simplified and easy-to-understand version, especially if you are using a QR code menu, that features your top 20% of sellers.

Don’t bother adding long descriptions, just make sure there are treatment names with time and price. With a virtual version, you can add an option to click through to read further if needed. We’ll come back to the longer menus at some point, but, for now, consumers are seeking simplicity, and a long list of choices can be stressful.

High-touch services will see increased demand

Interestingly, although low-touch services have been of great interest in the pandemic zone, our survey revealed that post vaccinations, a quarter of consumers are hoping to include more high-touch services into their routines. Women are especially eager to return to services like massage and facials, with 29% saying they would be engaging in more high-touch services when vaccines are widely distributed.

Bar graph showing that women are keen to receive high-touch services like facials and massages post vaccine rollout

Don't count on discounting

Experts are predicting that discounting, both in retail and service industries, will not be as prevalent in the near future, as consumers have more awareness of the value of what they are receiving and at least a little sympathy, for now, for what business-owners have endured. So be sure not to be too aggressive in offering promotions that cut into your already thinner margins. As always, try to concentrate on value-adds and experience upgrades in terms of promotional options.

And, speaking of experience, providing an excellent one has to continue to be a focal point. It’s the one thing they can’t buy on Amazon. Consumers want to get out of the house, go somewhere, and enjoy themselves. We are going to see malls and large retailers integrate more experience-oriented options, rather than just straight-up retail. On the list of top three things consumers were most excited about post-vaccination, an amazing 12% of men said wellness retreats! Think about events, workshops, and other participation-driven ways your clients can engage with your business.

Many consumers are looking for a new salon or spa

Unfortunately, many beauty and wellness businesses were not able to weather the COVID-19 storm. Many businesses have been forced to close permanently. For those that are still open, this presents a new opportunity. Among those who are less inclined to visit a salon/barber, more than a quarter (28%) say it's because their regular salon/barber went out of business during COVID; among those who are less inclined to visit a spa, a quarter say it's because their spa went out of business. These consumers are forced to look for a new option.

Among those less inclined to visit businesses, 28% say their salon went out of business and 25% say their spa went out of business.

The Mindbody app can bring new clients to businesses

How can your beauty or wellness business attract some of these potential clients? The Mindbody app. Beauty and wellness enthusiasts love the Mindbody app because it's easy for them to find their new favorite business and book their next appointment right away. Make sure that your business is listed on the Mindbody app so you can catch the eye of consumers who are looking for their new spot.

Continuing to support staff is crucial

Lastly, don’t forget to pay attention to your internal clients, your employees. They are still stressed and, in some cases, hesitant about returning to work and the public. Our efforts to consider mental wellness aspects and options for our guests should be extended to our staff as well. You may need more people to cover shifts, often as a result of providing shorter shifts and more flexibility in work schedules. This is a difficult time to onboard staff, but care and intention need to be at the forefront, for all humans.

Mindbody. “Return to In-person Wellness Survey.” February 2021.

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About the author:

Lisa Starr Headshot

Lisa Starr


Wynne Business Consulting

Lisa is a frequent collaborator with Mindbody and the Principal of Wynne Business Consulting & Education, which specializes in spa, wellness, and salon businesses and brands. She has over 35 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, spending the last 22 years as a consultant and educator helping wellness businesses optimize their operations while providing exceptional experiences for their guests. Lisa is the Task Force Chair for the Global Wellness Institute’s Consulting Initiative, a Contributing Editor at Spa Business Magazine, a regular contributor to global trade publications, and a highly rated speaker at industry conferences. She also offers live spa management courses both online and around the globe. 

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