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I cannot believe it’s now been a full year since our first national lockdown was imposed. We currently remain in our third which, we have been assured by our Prime Minister, will be our last. I, along with everyone else, truly hope he is right. At the time of writing, my concern is that with opposition parties constantly griping, in hindsight such a commitment may mean an even longer lockdown.
Our vaccine programme is currently making great progress and, it now seems evident, that successful implementation of vaccinating the population will deliver an assured exit from the havoc, pain and suffering that the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed upon us all in one way or another.
As a result of the pandemic, we can with a level of confidence state that our high streets have experienced something akin to a bit of a revival.
One thing is absolutely undeniable, and that is we are all desperate to get back to a sense of normality and pick up our lives and our businesses. For our industry, timing for the long-awaited easing of restrictions is critical, with the traditional tanning season soon upon us. But, in all honesty, who knows whether “traditional” will be our new norm; perhaps new trends will emerge and dominate? As an example, working from home (or WFH – have you noticed the whole new batch of pandemic acronyms?) is certainly here to stay. And I believe this is just one “new norm” that will benefit our industry.
Before the pandemic, the UK high street (local stores and amenities) was under serious threat. Every town throughout the UK has one and, traditionally, it would be the heart or hub of the local community. Yet in recent years, a combination of searingly high rents, business taxes, the lure of more choice in the city shopping centres and malls and, of course, the convenience and choice of online shopping, have all impacted the visibility and viability of the high-street business. And the high street is where a significant percentage of the UK’s indoor tanning salons are located.
During lockdown, people have been required to remain in their homes and not to go out apart from undertaking essential activities; outdoor exercise and food shopping being the two main activities allowed. And whilst you might imagine it hard to find a positive from this challenging situation, there is one! The reality is there has been a phenomenal increase in trading activity on the high street during lockdown, as many of these local shops sell food – the local butcher, baker, greengrocer (fruit and vegetables) and so on, and not forgetting liquor stores. Yes, our government deemed liquor as “essential retail” – and a liquor store almost certainly exists on every high street.
So as a result of the pandemic, we can with a level of confidence state that our high streets have experienced something akin to a bit of a revival. Of course, many businesses on the high street, tanning salons for example, have unfortunately had to remain closed during lockdown. But the fact that the local community has, once again, engaged with the benefits and advantages of shopping local and supporting local businesses, will I believe, see a boosted footfall into our high-street tanning salons once lockdown is lifted.
And, of course, just imagine the convenience for those WFH, of being able to pop to their local high street for a tanning session at any time. Combine these new customers with the new wave of customers committed to shopping in their re-connected locality, together with all the media coverage about the health benefits of sunshine and I think our high-street tanning salons may soon have something to be very happy about! ν
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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