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Coronavirus: Price freeze is vital to recovery, insists Belfast beauty salon owner

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Treatment prices including laser procedures (pictured) will be frozen at salon

Treatment prices including laser procedures (pictured) will be frozen at salon

Treatment prices including laser procedures (pictured) will be frozen at salon

The owner of one of Northern Ireland's longest-running beauty salons says she believes the bounceback from lockdown for the sector will be faster than the last recession - but keeping costs steady will be key.

Michelle Deighan, who operates Laser Solutions and Aaromatica laser skin and beauty clinics on the Ormeau Road, will reopen July 6.

"In 25 years of my working routine, this has been the most surreal and devastating economic event," Ms Deighan said.

"Coronavirus was an unknown entity and while I had to close my doors and business came to an abrupt halt, I'm not concerned that the pandemic will leave a lasting legacy on beauty salons.

"I've been working in this industry for 30 years and the public's attitude towards beauty treatments has changed dramatically over that period. Today beauty is seen as part of self-care. It's no longer a luxury, it's as essential to many people as a membership of the gym or eating well, so I can already see that playing a part in the bounce back."

Ms Deighan, who specialises in advanced laser skin treatments including thread vein removal, hair removal, rosacea, acne, and anti-ageing treatments, said she had spent thousands of pounds in safety precautions and had worked with the Regulatory and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). Implementing these measures, which include contactless sanitising stations, face masks and visors, disposable gloves, a Perspex reception screen, specialist signage, as well as staggered treatment times across its seven treatment rooms, is an added cost that the company will absorb.

"Part of recovery is about giving clients the confidence to come back and our clients can rest assured that we have followed every safety measure published by authorities, and more. Once they see what is in place, they will have that confidence to get back to their usual routine.

"Like the last recession there will be a hit to the business, but for me it won't be counteracted by higher prices. That's a personal principle and I think its integral to the recovery to keep costs as they were because right now other people are in economically fragile positions."

One mile away, at the Lower Ormeau Road, Arlene Kelly, owner of Decano Unisex Hair Salon, said sustaining former prices will be key to the recovery of her business.

Ms Kelly opened Decano in the final stages of the last recession, in 2010. It offers "low prices and quality cuts and colours". Gents' cuts cost £7 and ladies' shampoo and blowdries are from £10.

"We have our usual overheads and we've also invested heavily in PPE to ensure our clients' and staff's safety," she said.

"We have extra hours to cover to accommodate appointments and make up for lost time but we will hold our prices for as long as we can. It is important we maintain our policy of providing quality with cost competitiveness.

"It is that ethic that will bring back our clients - old and new," said Ms Kelly, who has worked in the hairdressing sector for 40 years, managing some of Northern Ireland's best known salons.

"We also understand that there are clients who will need a more specialised treatment after lockdown but they, too, will be able to avail of our pre-lockdown prices."

Belfast Telegraph