Cork barbershops experiencing worrying decline in custom following post-lockdown reopening

Cork barbershops experiencing worrying decline in custom following post-lockdown reopening

Mick Moriarty cutting the hair of Dan Joe McCarthy at Moriarty's Barbers, Blackpool, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

WHILE many were thrilled to see the return of personal services, barbershops in Cork have seen a decrease in the number of clients with fears that the so-called 'black market' has contributed to a change in the industry.

Mick Moriarty from the Baldy Barber has said that he has noted a change in his business over the past few weeks.

He described the first eight days back as “superb”. However, the last three or four weeks have been “absolutely terrible”.

Mr Moriarty said that he would be “out of business” if he had to pay rent for his premises.

“I personally know that if I didn’t own my premises, I most certainly wouldn’t be opening the door,” he said.

He said the main problem is “the customers aren’t coming in”.

The barbershop has seen roughly a 40% decrease in the number of clients that come in the door but Mr Moriarty stated that it is a nationwide issue.

“It’s everywhere. It’s up and down the whole country,” he said.

For Lorraine Stout from Bladez Barbershop, numbers have been down about 50% after what had been a busy first few weeks back.

Ms Stout said things are different now with many operating their own business and “the clientele is not there anymore”.

“The whole air of the barbershop, I find, is a lot different. Everybody is so spread across everything because everyone is busy doing their own thing now as well,” she said.

“The amount of people that used to be coming in – there’s no traffic like that anymore.” 

Ms Stout, who has had her business for 25 years, said she does not know where her clients have gone but noted the impact of the black market on the industry.

She said that a lot of people have set up their own business following the success of those who continued to give haircuts while personal services were closed, with social media making communication a lot easier for barbers or hairdressers who wish to go out on their own.

“As regards to the black market, that’s how they got so strong so quickly and that’s how they’re still as strong, it’s because of social media - part of it.” 

While they were closed, she said it was “very frustrating” to see people with haircuts that were done by a professional.

“We really went backwards and over the moon to reach our protocols and to make sure the staff was educated so it is very frustrating the fact that we weren’t allowed open, and we were following all of the rules.” 

Ms Stout added that since the pandemic, it has become “a completely different industry”.

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