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'We've felt a little bit special' - Barbers and hairdressers enjoying post-lockdown boom

Kiwi barbers and hairdressers are enjoying a boom of business, with Paymark data showing sales are up 61 per cent on the same time last year, post-lockdown.

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Julian Malone of Malone’s in Auckland says he’s never felt so appreciated. Source: 1 NEWS

However, some will also be aware that the boom could only be temporary, and that hard times could still lie ahead.

Julian Maloney of Maloney's barber in central Auckland says he has switched his shop from a walk-in to appointments only, and that people seem to be grateful to get back into the chair.

"We're all grateful to be back at work and every single client that's come in is so grateful to get a hair cut," he said.

"I've never seen this in my career, which is over 20 years - where we've felt a little bit special - people have really appreciated our service."

Mr Maloney says it's unlikely his business will turn a profit this year, but with bills, staff and suppliers paid, he's happy to have managed even that.

"Zero income for eight weeks and then were only back at 50 per cent for the next month - so we will really be looking at making no profit this year," he said.

"There's been so much uncertainty about what the future's like that we're just taking it month-by-month - a bit of forecasting, but really we're just happy to be back at work.

"There seems to be a general consensus that it's going to be hard - but we're alive and the country's great and we're lucky."

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Does Hilary have a new career option after her effort? Source: Seven Sharp

Niq James, Chair of the New Zealand Hairdressing Association, said going into winter was usually a bit quieter for hair professionals, as people tended to stay at home more and didn't need their hair done as often.

"But obviously with having seven weeks off, everyone's got twice the amount of regrowth they had before so there's a little bit extra being added to that," he said.

Going to a salon or a barber was an important activity for many, he said, which could aid people's mental health and reduce feelings of isolation, so it was no surprise that many sought out a haircut first thing at Level 2.

But Mr James said the upcoming seasonal downturn, combined with the Government's wage subsidy ending within the next few weeks was still a source of uncertainty for the industry.

"We're also aware that if we did get a second spike or we had to go into Level 3 again, then a lot of our businesses wouldn't survive," he said.

Mr James had been working with others in the hair and beauty industries to develop distancing and hygiene guidelines for vendors since the move to Level 2 was announced.

"Even though some salons aren't wearing masks at all, we've still recommended that you do wear a mask, so for example at my salon we all wear mask," Mr James said.

Some customers felt safer seeing hairdressing staff wearing masks, while others were more relaxed about it, he said.

"Play it safe is the sort of mantra we are using - it actually reminds you as well that we're not back to normal.

"So it definitely has a psychological effect, I guess, so that people kind of remember that we are still erring on the side of caution."

Mr James said the recommendation for staff to wear masks would probably be reconsidered in "a couple of weeks time".

"We've had a couple of weeks with no community transmission, we'd probably move to any appointments under half an hour you don't need to wear a mask."