What will be left of the High St?

I wrote some time ago about my fear that hair salons will not be able to compete on the High St. Hair Salons help to give the High Street a unique and independent look. The usual coffee shops, bookmakers, supermarkets and charity shops do not. The end of the High St is nigh. For me it’s understandable. It’s not a great experience. Pay thru the nose for parking (if you can get parked) then under constant surveilance by cash vampires otherwise known as parking attendants. All this before you step out of the car. Oh and you’re probably miles away from where you need to go. It’s outdoor so in the UK you’re more than likely gonna get wet. Do I need to go on? This is why I think we will all be cutting hair for Tescos and paid in Clubcard points. Owning a hair salon in the 21st century is hard. Due to Increased costs, increased legislation, bureacracy and better technology. The skills required to run a successful salon are constantly changing. This downward pressure on the owners and on the profit margins will make most people think. What’s the point?

Look at the gentrification happening in central London where famous institutional hairdressing salons are being forced out and replaced by Designer Labels.

This is happening now.

Every day, an average of 16 shops close on Britain’s high streets – at double the rate of last year. Analysis by PwC and Local Data Company found 1,772 stores disappeared from town centres in 2017 including 314 fashion outlets. Analysts blame a “perfect storm” of inflation-driven cost increases, global online competition and a slump in consumer confidence after the Brexit referendum. Shopfront closures may also be explained by the success of online retailers using local warehouses for distribution over bricks and mortar stores.

Source LinkedIn

The shop I work out of for example is in a parade of 14 seperate shops. 3 hair salons, 2 restaurants, 1 florist, 1 photographic studio, 1 dry cleaners, 1 beauty salon, 1 physiotherapist, 1 newsagent, 1 antique shop, 1 estate agents, 1 clothes store.

You can see our problem. Competition is fierce. Hair salons have reached saturation limit.

Hair salons are mostly independents, I would say we are Robot proof but not technology proof. Product companies are constantly trying to remove the skill and technique from our profession under the guise of innovation. Why learn anything if this will all be done for you? In a year or so we may be able to 3d print our hairstyle. What is the point? If there is no future for our industry.

Salons are undermined from every angle. From product companies, the education system to the bureaucrats. With this pressure on margins You’d think ‘oh we should just put our prices up.’ Oh hang on we can’t because our loyal clients are already at breaking point and raising prices means we could lose them to the salons either side of us.

Some in the industry argue that we need government regulation on top of the competitive challenges we already face. Tell me what does the government know about hair? Anyone asked Boris Johnson who does his hair? And more to the point. Who would regulate the regulators? And then who would regulate the regulators of the regulators? It’s a rabbit hole of Alice sized proportions.

The Government have already told us they will NEVER reduce or eliminate VAT on our services. Therefore I would argue if you’re vat registered you are already regulated. VAT SHOULD BE used as a badge of honour. It proves success, it proves longevity. I understand the need for a fair playing field. More regulation is not the answer. We are self regulating. It’s called competition. This is a huge industry and I would argue that some natural selection is necessary. Adapt or Dye? (Sorry.)

If only the same philosophy was followed by the banking industry in 2009. The banks who crashed the world economy got bailed out by there governments which basically meant that they don’t have to compete or have a ‘risk of failure’ Competition keeps you on your toes. Competition is what defines Darwinism and Natural selection. ‘The survival of the fittest.’ Is how we got here. Being inspired, practice and by making mistakes & self motivation to be better than yesterday. Not because someone told us what to do. Imagine Vidal Sassoon being told to do something he didnt want to do. He would have thrown you out of his shop.

In order to compete we need a simple solution. Get back to basics. We need to have a fair playing field. We need to be able to fail. We need to be able to succeed. We need to have the choice to do what is right for us. Individually and collectively and only then we can secure our place on the High St where we belong. Its in our interest.

In the words of the great Vidal Sassoon if you don’t look good we don’t look good.

Not even Vidal could have imagined how profound those words could be in 2018.

P.s another thought is that commercial rents are cheaper than residential ones. Therefore in a declining market the landlords will inevitably change the status of these properties to residential and only then will the high st be alive. Alive Online. 🤔

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