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The beauty industry has been reeling since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last spring. While state and local governments have lifted some lockdown measures, the sector has had difficulties making up months of lost revenue
Salons are relying on barely half the customers they normally would under normal business conditions. Now with renewed efforts to limit a "second wave" of COVID-19 infections, most salons are struggling just to pay the bills, much less turn a profit.
Lana Kars, owner of Russian Nails in New York City, had to trim her staff and halt her earlier plans to expand. With only two employees working, Kars fears she doesn't have "enough money to run a business" adding that bills eat up all her profits.
"In this case, you have to be the best and we are trying to be the best," Kars told FOX Business. "We are trying to remain positive."
Prior to the pandemic, Kars says she had three employees who were able to serve more than 15 clients a day. Now, the salon sees about half that many.
We are just "trying to survive," Kars said.
Likewise, Mo Quin, the owner of Oh My Nails in New York City, says that she had to lay off half of her employees and "sales are not enough to pay for rent."
Due to the economic downturn, Quin said, two of her employees were even forced to move home to Japan.
What stuns her the most, she added, is when clients ask why she and her staff risk their health coming into work every day.
"I don't have an answer for these people," she said. "We don't have a choice."
Luckily, Quin said, many of her clients, specifically those within the service industry, are tipping more than normal.
Further south in North Carolina, Finesse Nails owner Matthew Bootz declared his salon also took a hit and is taking in about 40% less revenue than last year.
"We could double what we are doing," Bootz told FOX Business, admitting he has found himself calling customers to come in, something he has never done in his four years of business.
His six employees see roughly 35 clients a day when they would normally see more than 50, though he has been able to both maintain wages and pay bills on time.
Across the country, in Kansas, manager Stephanie Lavin stated Paint Nail Bar has seen customers flood back after restrictions were loosened earlier this year. The fear of another shutdown still remains, though.
Despite extensive efforts to keep the salon sanitized and safe for customers, Lavin said, "We still have to pay rent, we still have to keep the lights."
In addition to the pandemic, winter is typically slower, she added, and the shop's owner has talked to workers about how to budget living expenses during another shutdown as well as the seasonal slump, she says.