Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Sector Information

The hairdressing and beauty sector includes:

  • hairdressing (some salons also offer beauty treatment)
  • barbering
  • African-Caribbean hair
  • beauty therapy
  • nails
  • spa

There is much overlap in the sector as, for example, some hairdressing salons offer beauty therapy. Habia is the Standards Setting Body for the sector.

Beauty therapists reportedly enjoy their careers more than others, awarding their jobs 9.2 out of ten.

In the UK, 2006 expenditure in hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments was around £5.25 billion. There are an estimated 500 million client visits to establishments in this sector every year. Between 2001 and 2007, the sector experienced growth which was forecast to continue before the economic downturn.

Source: Habia Industry Statistics 2008, Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007 and Habia Skills Foresight for the hair and beauty sector 2007

Employment in the sector

The hair and beauty workforce is around 245,795 people, representing 0.87% of total UK employment. High growth in the economy tends to translate into increased opportunities in the sector. In 2007, there a small risk of an oversupply of hairdressers and more opportunities in the beauty sector due to increased demand in these services by the leisure industry.

42.2% of the workforce is self-employed, compared with 13.1% in the whole UK workforce. Self-employment is common for experienced hairdressers.

30.8% of the workforce is full-time, compared with 64.6% in the whole UK workforce. 27% of the workforce is part-time, compared with 22.3% across the whole UK economy. By industry:

  • 63% of beauty therapy workforce is full-time
  • 41% of the nail services workforce
  • 72% of the hairdressing workforce
  • 80% of the barbering workforce
  • 51% of the spa therapy workforce
  • 61% of the African Caribbean hair workforce

Over the next five years, output growth will slow, but employment will grow at an estimated 2.4% per year between 2010 and 2015 (Note: that this forecast was calculated before the recession). The largest number of new jobs will be in personal service occupations and managers, but these will mainly be part-time.

Source: Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007 and Habia Skills Foresight for the hair and beauty sector 2007

Return to the top

Hair and beauty establishments

There are an estimated 55,000 establishments in the sector of which:

  • 35,704 are hair salons
  • 302 African Caribbean hair salons
  • 2,967 barbering
  • 1,512 nail bars/technicians
  • 13,107 beauty salons and consultants
  • 947 mobile beauty therapists
  • 400 spas

With over 36,000 hair salons and barbers, there are around 180,000 staff with a turnover in excess of £4.8 billion.

A high proportion of sector establishments are micro. 93.3% of establishments employ between 1 and 10 people, compared with 83.6% in the UK economy. 6.5% of establishments employ between 11 and 199 people, compared with 15.7% in the UK economy.

99% of establishments in the sector are private enterprises and only 1% are classed as public sector.

Franchising is an increasing feature of the sector, as well as renting out of chairs or treatment rooms.

Source: Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007 and Habia Industry Statistics 2008, Careers in hairdressing and barbering in England 2006

Return to the top

Vacancy and staff turnover rates

  • 20.5% of salons have vacancies
  • 12.1% have hard-to-fill vacancies
  • 8.6% facing skills shortage vacancies
  • 2.9% report vacancies are due to poor quality applicants
  • 12.4% report skills gaps

The main causes of hard-to-fill vacancies are reported to be the low number of applicants with the required skills and the low number of applicants with the required attitude, motivation or personality. Skills shortage vacancies are reported to be the result of deficiencies in customer handling, team-working, technical, practical or job-specific, oral communication and literacy skills.

The nail services industry has the highest turnover rate of 93% and spa therapy establishments report the most vacancies (42%).

Recruitment difficulties are high for nail technicians (38%), barbers (29%), plus beauty (27%) and spa (26%) therapists.

Source: Habia Industry Statistics 2008 and Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007

Return to the top

Skills gaps

An estimated 12.4% of establishments in the hair and beauty sector report skills gaps, compared with 16.4% of the whole economy. 5% of staff in the sector are considered no fully proficient. As expected, skills gaps are highest in personal service staff. As in skills shortage vacancies, skills gaps are in:

  • Technical, practical or job-related skills (56%)
  • Customer handling skills (48%)
  • Oral communication skills (38%)
  • Team-working skills (36%)

Future skills needs are forecast for customer handling skills, technical and practical skills, communication skills and team-working skills.

Source: Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007

Return to the top

Future drivers

  • Consumer trends and the influence of fashion and the desire to look younger, coupled with economic growth and the associated increase in real disposable income. The current climate may affect spending in the sector.
  • The ageing population will influence the sector in the future. There will be an increasing need to cater for a wider age range of clients and the reduction in the number of young people likely to enter the workforce.
  • Globalisation and technology will impact on the sector as there are greater consumer expectations in the management of bookings, recording personalised data and the global trends in image and fashion.
  • Innovation rates in the sector are slow, but advances in technology lead to new techniques and equipment and a requirement for new skills.
  • Economic trends: Whilst the demand for basic hair cutting services tends to be constant, other services, such as colouring and perming and beauty and nail treatments are seen by clients as a luxury.
  • The sector aims to recruit suitable people so that the number of people completing training rises and fewer people leave hair and beauty. Low wages are likely to remain an issue when trying to attract new people.

Source: Habia Industry Statistics 2008 and Habia Skills Needs Assessment 2007

Return to the top