- November 4, 2021
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After months of lost income leaving heavy debts, mental tolls and fears about when they’ll be able to return to work, hairdressers say salons across Auckland are beginning to close.
Trisha Roberton, owner of Pizzaz Hair Boutique in West Auckland, has become one of the lockdown casualties.
She’s said goodbye to 25 years of hairdressing – closing her salon in early September and selling her home to cover costs as the latest lockdown became the final straw. Despite applying for the wage subsidy, it didn’t cover all her expenses, she said, with Roberton losing as much as $4000 weekly.
“I knew what the financial hardships were in front of me, I thought I’d just make a clean break,” said Roberton.
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“It was bittersweet. It was stressful, and I’ll miss it as I’ve had 25 years of clients who have been with me that whole time – and it’s really sad. I’m trying to find other hairdressers for my clients, so they don’t lose out, but it’s really hard.”
Many other salon owners say they are barely holding on as they await Auckland’s move to “red level”, which would allow contact services such as hairdressing to continue.
However, the lead up to Christmas is when most salons make their profit, meaning product stock had to be ordered in September to prepare. With many salons suffering financial hardship, some are unable to purchase their normal quota, meaning they might not meet client demands.
“Some [salons] can extend their line of credit, others can’t,” said Niq James, spokesman for the NZ Association of Registered Hairdressers.
“We bought $10,000 in stock, but don’t know if we can serve customers with this. It’s a lot of money going to waste.”
James’ salon in Christchurch had to work long hours, extra days to make up for lockdown losses. He believes the idea of other Auckland salons doing the same depends on whether hairdressers can sacrifice personal time.
“They’re human. Our industry is female dominated, most have kids, and they’re primary caregivers,” said James.
“Who’s looking after the kids during the backlog of clients to meet? It’s stressful from a personal level.”
The positive news is Auckland’s goal of 90 per cent vaccination, to move into red level, creates more certainty for salon owners around when they’ll be allowed to open.
Kylie Pointon, who spoke to Stuff about the financial burdens of lockdown on her salon, said the goal provides light at the end of the tunnel. But the possibility of being closed until as late as Christmas means a longer wait for already exhausted owners.
“Missing that revenue stream means a tough year next year re-establishing the business,” said Pointon, whose salon is based in Rosedale.
“All the work I did in the last 3 years – I’m starting from scratch again. Building the reputation up again, it’s really tricky. We will have everybody in the first six weeks back, then nobody. So big highs and lows.”
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) previously said it was aware of business owners’ lockdown struggles, pointing to the billions of dollars poured into financial support for employers and workers.
“In this outbreak alone, we have paid more than $3 billion in Wage Subsidy payments and almost $1b in Resurgence Support Payments,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson
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