The International Spa Association recently released a sneak peek of its ‘Big Five’ statistics ahead of the publication of its full 2021 US Spa Industry Study findings next month (see p38).
Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the preliminary findings give the clearest picture yet of how COVID-19 has affected businesses in the US spa sector.
Some of the statistics confirm what many expected. There was a 36.4 per cent decrease in overall spa revenues, from US$19.1bn at the end of 2019 to US$12.1bn at the end of 2020. At the same time, the number of spa visits dropped by 35.1 per cent from 192 million in 2019 to 124 million at the end of last year.
There were some surprises too. The number of spa locations only fell by 3.9 per cent, meaning by the end of 2020, there were still 21,560 spas in the US, including those temporarily closed due to the pandemic. “Many people thought these numbers would fall of the cliff,” says PwC’s global research lead, Colin McIlheney, adding that it’s “very encouraging” to see that so many businesses are still out there.
Another key finding was the marked difference between types of facilities, with day spas weathering the storm far better than resort and hotel spas. Average revenue fell by 46 per cent for resort/hotel spas compared to only 31 per cent for day spas. One in two resort/hotel spas reported a greater than 25 per cent decrease in staff, compared to one in five day spas.
These figures are valuable as they give operators a chance to take stock of how they measure up and an idea of how to adapt their businesses in the future.
However, the publication of the report highlights the lack of available industry numbers on a global scale. How do these figures compare in terms of the impact COVID-19 has had on spa businesses in Asia, for example, where anecdotal evidence suggests businesses are bouncing back quicker than in other world regions? Where’s the spa benchmarking data from industry associations and organisations in other international markets?
We want industry bodies worldwide to step up and gather and publish their numbers, so decision-makers can fully understand the impact of the pandemic on the global sector and plot successful ways forward.
Katie Barnes, editor @SpaBusinessKB