Wig industry loses supplies, incurs losses due to Covid

Business City COVID-19 Top story

Number of women visiting salons falls in a big way

Bengaluru: The wig industry is struggling to recover from effects of the pandemic. India, which supplies 80 per cent of the world’s wigs, has seen a reduction of 60 per cent in production.

As salons have seen a steep decline in the number of clients they serve, the amount of hair donated and sold to the wig industry has declined proportionately. “The number of people visiting the salon for haircuts has dropped due to Covid, and the amount of hair that is left by the end of the day is so little that we are left with no option but to throw it,” said Mary Margeret, owner of Salon Nayana, Brigade Road.

“We can’t even donate it right now as we have to follow Covid protocols. BBMP will not allow us to do so.”

India is the world’s largest supplier of human hair. It exports at least 1,300 tonnes annually. But with the outbreak of the deadly virus, the manufacture of wigs has declined.

R. Swamy, owner of Wig Design Palace, which makes and sells wigs in the wholesale market, said: “The manufacture of wigs has reduced by more than 60 per cent because of a shortage of human hair.”

According to a report by the Ministry of Commerce, the decline in exports since 2013 is worrying. The Plastic Export Promotion Council has made several representations to the government to highlight the problems being faced by exporters of human hair.

Now, with a second wave of Covid-19 it seems even more difficult for the industry to return to normal business.

Natural Wig Shop manager L.K. Sangeetha said the business has been incurring losses ever since the pandemic hit. They are unable to recover losses. “Our clients have declined, so have sales. I really do not know if we are ready for the after-effects of the second wave.”

Because people are working from home, 90 per cent of women have not been able to focus on their grooming, according to a report by Robert W. Baird & Co. Women’s hair is considered to be the main source of income for the wig industry. The decline in the number of women visiting salons has had a negative impact.

“The decline in the number of women clients is another setback for the industry. We are unable to collect enough human hair for donation/sale to the wig industry,” said Archana Sanghavi, manager of Plum and Sugar Salon, HSR Layout.

Vandana Singh, owner of Radiant Salon, RR Nagar, said they had to cancel their tie-ups with wig manufacturers as they didn’t have anything to offer. “We are badly hit by the pandemic. We are stressed about the declining number of clients…”.

Low demand and reduced manufacture of wigs have not only affected wig shops and manufacturers but also hair transplantation clinics.

Harsha Kumar, coordinator at Body Culture Studio, a hair transplantation clinic in Kalyan Nagar, said his business is not doing well as the number of clients has declined. “I have noticed a trend of people being apprehensive about taking our service, citing ‘financial crisis’ or ‘expensive’; it wasn’t so before.”

These negative impacts on the hair and wig industries have made manufacturers, sellers and other service providers cut costs and change policies to survive in the market.

“We even reduced the cost of services by 10-15% percent but it made no difference,” said Harsha Kumar.

Likewise, Sangeetha of Natural Wig Center said their business adopted a similar strategy. “We have reduced the selling price of wigs in the hope that it’ll attract more customers and help us in touching at least the break-even point.”

According to reports, the Indian beauty salon industry is estimated to be around Rs 10,000 crore. The beauty industry was growing at 18.6% in pre-Covid times, faster than the international rate of 15%.

Beauty salons that reopened recently are finding the going tough again as Bengaluru is reporting nearly 1,700 Covid-19 cases daily.

“We couldn’t formulate strategies to cope with the first wave of Covid-19. Now with cases rising again, I don’t think we’d be able to survive longer,” said Swamy.

The hair export market in India is worth Rs 6,000 crore-Rs 8,000 crore. Only 5 per cent of hair comes from donations at temples; the rest comes from salons.


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