Customers desperate for haircuts and treatments are prepared to pay up to €200, or four times the normal price, an industry leader has said.
Incoming President of the Irish Hairdressers Federation, Danielle Kennedy, told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme that there had been a huge surge in demand from customers who felt they could not wait until July, when restrictions are expected to be eased on hair salons and barbers.
"It erupted even further since the announcement that we aren’t going to open until July 20. People just aren’t prepared to wait that long for a haircut," she said.
"Roughly €150 to €200 for a haircut compared to €40 to €50, so three and four times the normal price to get it done.
"It’s putting salons under an awful lot of pressure because there is a fear that the owners are going to crumble and will just try and look after their clients."
The federation was proposing measures to move the reopening of salons and barbers to Phase Three of the Government’s measures at the end of June, Ms Kennedy said.
"Hairdressing salons are sterile environments. We are well equipped to cope with this and we are happy to take that up a notch.
"We are all salon owners so we know what we suggest are things that will work and are practical for the industry."
Almost 5,000 people have signed a collective hair and beauty petition, made up of a number of industry bodies and supported by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), asking the Government for a range of supportive measures as it rebuilds.
They include financial grant payments in order to ensure liquidity of organisations; the reinstatement of statutory redundancy rebates; the reduction in Vat to 9%; and the reduction in employers PRSI contribution.
It also includes a review of the apprenticeship payment model to include a training allowance; a freeze on commercial rents and rates; and a one-month vulnerable industries wage support grant paid to employers who rehire laid-off employees.
"This would help to generate cash flow as the business enters recovery mode," the petition said.
It added: "As an industry, we fully support the HSE and Government requests for social distance. We as an industry take our social responsibility very seriously - hence the vast amount of voluntary closures nationally. The health and welfare of those in our society is our key priority.
"Thousands of salons across Ireland have already been forced to close their doors in order to meet the HSE requirements on social distancing. The hair and beauty industry employs 25,800 [people].
"2019 proved to be one of the toughest years within the industry. Labour market figures fell by 8% due to the reversal of the Vat rate, abolition of the trainee rate, and increase in national minimum wages. We say this in a time of crisis as these businesses are the backbone of Ireland’s towns and villages, providing essential services, and employment."
The petition was instigated by a number of groups including the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation, Irish Hairdressers Federation and the Hairdressing Council of Ireland.