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Quarter of UK hairdressers considering closing or scaling back businesses

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More than a quarter of hairdressers are thinking of closing sites or reducing the size of their salon as stylists struggle with high bills and fewer clients, research suggests.

Two-fifths of salon owners say they are anxious about the future, with almost a quarter struggling to pay their energy costs and one in five having to ask family and friends for financial help, according to a survey by the comparison site Uswitch.

Independently owned hairdressers and beauty salons were by far the hardest hit by rising energy bills and the consumer spending squeeze among independent retailers last year – with a net 624 closing, according to the Local Data Company. The next worst affected category – newsagents – saw only a net 225 shut.

The National Hair & Beauty Federation said about a quarter of salons were making a loss, up from 19% in the autumn, and two-thirds expected to put up prices this spring amid more uncertainty about business survival. It has called for more government support with bills.

Paul Faulkner, the owner of The Retreat Hairdressing in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said his energy bills had risen by almost a third and he was locked into those costs after signing a three-year deal because of fears that prices would go even higher.

He said the increase in the minimum wage this month had added another £200 a week to his costs while the price of products, such as shampoo and serum, had risen by about 5%.

“Everybody is finding it hard,” Faulkner said, adding that his suppliers “just keep putting things up”.

“The rising cost of energy is a major issue for my business,” he said. “We need to continue to provide the best possible service for customers without having to raise prices, but it is unfortunately becoming more and more difficult.”

The Retreat has made changes to adapt, such as putting in energy-saving LED strip lights instead of chandeliers and asking staff to charge their phones at home in order to save on energy.

It owns its own building and so has not suffered from higher rental costs, unlike many other similar businesses locally, and has been able to avoid increasing its prices. This has meant the salon has held on to its customers, but Faulkner said some were coming less often.

Louise Howard-Long, the owner of Architect Hair in Headingley, Leeds, said she was worried about what would happen with energy bills when she came to the end of a fixed deal in September.

She said: “I am lucky because I signed a fixed deal but so many [salons] are going under because of energy costs.

“We have a lot of regular clients who are still coming in but some are embracing their grey. Rather than come in for a colour every four weeks they are coming in for a cut every eight.”

Howard-Long said her profit margins had already been squeezed by an increase in the price of hair dyes – by as much as a quarter – and other necessities from refreshments for customers to shampoo. She is also having to repay a government-backed loan taken out to keep the business going during the pandemic lockdowns.

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