Are Nail Services Endangered Treatments?

An article ran in the Los Angeles Times yesterday titled “Los Angeles Salons Note a Client Downturn.” In the story, the author says that bikini waxes, manicures and pedicures, and many hair services are all on the “endangered treatments list.” Many women are opting for at-home treatments and longer time between in-salon services.
And according to one woman interviewed for the story: “Now, I am saving those treatments like getting my nails done for special occasions instead of thinking of them as regular maintenance,” says Los Angeles attorney Marcia Osborne, as she eyes a display of nail polishes. “We’re going to the inauguration, so I am going to get a manicure and pedicure for that.”
Are nails and other salon services going to go back to being a just-for-the-wealthy or special-occasion service like they were many years ago? What can salons do to keep customers coming in for services when the economic prognosis looks so bleak?
I maintain that nails are an “inexpensive luxury” and clients will continue to come in for manicures and pedicures because they can still feel pampered without spending too much money. (A $50 spa-style pedicure is much easier on the wallet than, say, a $150 facial or massage.) But I can see the author’s point that a manicure is much easier to do oneself than say, highlighting your own hair.
I talked to salon owner and frequent NAILS contributor Maisie Dunbar last week and she told me that she simply isn’t letting the current situation affect her. She wrote in an e-mail, “I am one nail tech that this recession is not going to stop. Tell all my fellow nail techs out there to ‘Stop waiting for things to happen. Make them happen now.’”
What do you guys think? Are you seeing a dip in business in the salon? What are you doing to make up for it? How do you keep clients coming back for more? I have a feeling we’re going to be covering this topic heavily in the year to come. I’d love to hear what you’d like to see more (or less) of concerning salon business in 2009.
— Hannah

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