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November 19, 2018

High Streets Getting a Makeover as Number of Independent “Beaut-Economy” Businesses to Grow by 7,852


The British High Street is getting a makeover – in a literal sense – as the number of independent “beaut-economy” businesses will increase by 7,852 outlets in the next five years, the highest level of increase of any business sector on the high street. As a result, there will be 56,484 independent hair and beauty outlets across the nation by 2023.

This equates to an increase of 16% in the number of hair and beauty outlets² by 2023 (from 2017), according to the Shop Small research carried out by American Express and retail analysts, GlobalData. Hair and beauty is one of several key sectors contributing to growth of independent retailers on the high street.

This growth is being driven by the rise in the sums consumers are willing to spend on their appearance. American Express Shop Small found that the nation spends £7.62 billion³ on independent beauty services – and these retailers have been quick to respond to rising demand.

Increases in consumer spending in the “beaut-economy” are particularly notable within the millennial generation (22-36 year olds).² While those aged over 37 say they use hair salons and beauty salons on average 9 times per year, millennials say they use such services twice as frequently – making on average 19 visits each per year. Overall, the millennial generation account for more than a quarter (27%) of all spending in hair salons, barbers and beauty salons, spending £281 each annually on these services. 

The research comes ahead of Small Business Saturday, of which American Express is the founder and principal supporter. Taking place on 1 December 2018, thousands of retailers, dozens of local councils and business groups will encourage the nation to shop small ahead of the festive season.

With the Christmas party season in full-swing, it’s a period of time when beauty retailers expect to see a boom in sales. American Express and GlobalData examined trends in openings over the last five years and ran research amongst 2,250 consumers to better understand current attitudes and behaviours to develop a forecast that paints a positive outlook for the sector.

  • Within the ‘hair and beauty' retail sector as a whole, the research found that beauty salons (which include brow bars, waxing salons and massage) as well as nail bars are predicted to experience the greatest growth in terms of numbers of outlets (with 2,810 more on British high streets by 2023).
  • Independent hair salons have also grown – spurred by the rising trend for blow dry bars and specialist haircare retailers – with 2,568 more outlets predicted to appear on the British high street in the coming five years.
  • While “beaut-economy” retailers tend to serve a female clientele, men too are supporting the boom. American Express found that there will be 2,137 more barbers in the UK in 2023.

Caroline Bouvet, VP at American Express said: “Independent retail entrepreneurs were early to spot the opportunity to offer a range of beauty services to consumers, from waxing and weaving to braiding and beard trimming. The beauty economy is a growing part of our high streets and demonstrates how quick independent retailers are to adapt to shifting demands from consumers. With our passion for grooming booming, we hope everyone will remember their local independents by shopping small this Small Business Saturday and beyond.”

American Express Cardmembers will be incentivised to shop small with a £5 statement credit when they spend £10 or more at participating small businesses between 1st – 16th December 2018.

¹ All research conducted by retail experts GlobalData, who analysed retail figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), as well as a variety of publicly available secondary sources, such as the Local Data Company (LDC), the National Hairdressing Federation (NHF), Leisure DB and the UK Cinema Association as reference points, and drawing on existing retailer, consumer and market data where relevant. Predictions were made using projection modelling to derive robust forecasts. All data analysed focused solely on independent retailers.

Additional consumer research was undertaken by GlobalData in October 2018, surveying 2,250 consumers from an established nationally representative panel to provide additional insight into consumer behaviour

² Definitions:

Hair and beauty: includes hairdressers/salons, barbers, beauty salons, nail salons, tattooing and piercing and tanning shops/salons

Millennials: refers to all shoppers aged 22-36

³ Modelled annual spend on hair and beauty per annum until 2023, based on the estimated size of the market (independent retail only)

To find out more about Small Business Saturday and the American Express Shop Small campaign, please visit:

AMERICAN EXPRESS Anne Tyrer +44(0)1273 210217 HOPE&GLORY PR Jen Murdoch +44 (0)203-588-9700

Multimedia Files:

Aimee Thompson, founder and owner of The Works in Marple, pictured at her salon. Research from American Express Shop Small, which aims to encourage the nation to support their local independent shops, has found that the number of independent businesses in Great Britain is set to experience net growth of 0.3% over the period 2017-2023. Hair salons are one of the fastest-growing categories on the UK high-street. 1094 x 714 jpg 134 KB