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Great news indeed since the last issue of IST Magazine; tanning salons in both the Republic of Ireland and also in Northern Ireland have now re-opened their doors for business! For many operators in these countries, this easing of lockdown came at just the right time, giving a good 4-6 weeks of the usual season to generate much needed revenue. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for salons in England, Scotland and Wales, where each country’s government has adopted a very cautious approach to re-opening for the beauty and health club sector.
Whilst we certainly would not want tanning salons opening up before it is safe to do so, the hugely frustrating factor for salons remaining closed in 75% of the UK is that we are wrongly aligned with beauty businesses. This is a significant miss-classification in the context of risk for spreading COVID-19 because beauty treatments are close-contact and, of course, tanning salons absolutely are NOT. And, actually, in Wales it’s even worse! There, we are aligned with tattooing, piercing, electrolysis and acupuncture – now I have absolutely nothing whatsoever against any of these practices, but they are all invasive treatments using needles – so what on earth do these practices, albeit well-regulated, have anything to do with a private tanning session!
There’s no doubt that another recent factor in the mix for England, has been the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in a major city which has caused jitters within government circles. Nonetheless, our industry remains focused on efforts with each government to secure a pathway to re-opening and I am delighted to report that progress is being made.
The Sunbed Association (TSA) has heavily lobbied the various home nation governments and their relevant departments detailing the absolute differences between a tactile salon environment and tanning salons. We have always maintained that tanning is one of the few retail “pleasures” that can be undertaken in isolation.
I am fiercely proud of the way TSA swung into action at lockdown. The passion and commitment are wonderful. TSA has sent so many letters and emails, had meetings and conversations explaining protocols taken to ensure COVID-secure salon experiences. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and it has been gratifying to see everyone in the industry come together for the greater good.
During the pandemic lockdown, we have gained a true insight to the innate determination, spirit and drive of many business owners. Ingenious efforts are being made by operators looking to generate revenue during the months of lockdown that are traditionally the busiest time of year. And customers have lapped these initiatives up, supporting their local salons and, dare I say, it will be the result of these efforts in some cases that will enable their survival going forward.
And it is also abundantly clear that the desire to tan using a tanning bed – even when we have been lucky with some glorious sunshine during lockdown – is as strong, if not stronger than ever. Case in point being the speed with which TSA’s petition to government to get salons open grew, achieving many thousands of signatures in such a short period of time.
And to illustrate that desire for an indoor tan even further, at different points over the last few weeks when re-opening had been on the cards, salons were literally besieged with requests for bookings and courses. Although frustrating for both tanner and operator alike, as the re-opening dates didn’t materialise, the demand will certainly have been very reassuring for salon owners. So much so, that operators are already planning longer opening hours both to keep pace with demand as well as re-coup some of their lost earnings.
So as I sign off for this issue, I hope by the next time I put fingers to keyboard for IST, I will be able to say, “it’s business as usual, folks!”
Wish us luck!
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