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These continue to be strange and challenging times for us all, but there is UV light at the end of the tunnel as we move toward the end of the third month of lockdown here in the UK. Around Europe, society has generally re-opened, including being able to make the much longed-for visit to the tanning salon. Indeed, in some countries, including the Netherlands, tanning salons never even closed with the relevant authorities recognising tanning was an activity that could be done in isolation with minimal risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
The picture in the UK is, however, very different. Even though we are the United Kingdom, the devolved government in each country is approaching the exiting of lockdown somewhat differently, with varying timescales and different phases for sector re-openings. Tanning salons are generally grouped for re-opening alongside all other salons, including hair, beauty and nails. As we have pointed out to the authorities, this is, of course, somewhat bizarre given there is no physical contact between staff in a tanning salon and patrons, whereas close physical contact is required in the delivery of services in other salon-styled businesses.
Whilst no business would have willingly volunteered to be in this position, operators generally appear to have made the most of the lockdown, using it as an opportunity to deep clean, re-decorate, re-visit protocols and how they market their business. For some, it’s akin to a fresh, new start and one thing is absolutely for sure: neither they nor their customers can wait to be able to open the doors and start tanning again.
As most of us will be unable to jet off to sunny summer vacation destinations this year, a mini-vacation in the local tanning salon is, thankfully, likely to be much in demand. And how we go about our daily lives post-pandemic will, of course, be different – there’s no doubt about that. As part of these changes, I think it is very possible that the hitherto seasonal nature of a tanning salon business could become much more of a regular, year-round activity with the general population having become far more aware during this pandemic of the benefits of regular sunshine exposure.
There may, of course, be some businesses in general and indeed salon operators who, even with all the government’s financial aid packages, will decide to close their doors for good. In such cases, I think these are more likely than not to be salons that were not run by, shall we say, best practice operators. Alternatively, it could be that the owners are reaching retirement age and the pandemic has made them re-think their plans going forward. Salons like the latter, in good locations, are likely to be snapped up by the ever expanding chains or the new kids on the block looking to build their empires.
One thing for sure is that things won’t be quite the same again; yet, as an eternal optimist kinda guy with my cup always half full, I see that from the embers of all the chaos and devastation that COVID-19 brought upon us, our families and friends, we can generate new opportunities and perhaps even a slightly different direction for our fabulous industry – so let’s grab it with both hands and see what happens!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary Lipman is Managing Director of the UK subsidary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products & spray systems. He is also Chairman of the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
Copyright 2016 ist Magazine