The recession has had a noticeable effect on industries from banking to real estate, and now that impact is trickling down to small businesses that offer discretionary services.
Following a national trend, women in the Rye area are starting to pinch pennies when it comes to their hair care spending--a service that might be superficial to some people, but is a necessity for others.
While the beauty industry is still faring better than other national industries, hair salons in Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester have been hit doubly with a decrease in customers as well as less demand for hair colorings, which tend to be expensive to maintain.
Judy Girardi, co-owner of GeMargot Salon in Rye Brook, said that business has slowed down since the recession, but a core clientele has helped to ease the impact.
"Business has decreased maybe 10 to 15 percent," Girardi said.
Brenda Maeda, owner of Hair and Beyond in Rye, said that while she has also seen a slight decrease in customers, many are choosing to still receive professional services, even if they're spending less.
"We can still make customers feel good and look good while also being conscientious of their spending," Maeda said.
Maeda and Girardi have both noticed that customers are deciding to wait longer between professional haircuts and colorings.
"Instead of dyeing their hair every four to six weeks, customers are going six to eight weeks," Girardi said.
Maeda said that customers are also choosing longer styles that require less maintenance and "even going closer to their natural color so you don't see that line of demarcation."
Don Miriello, owner of The Best Little Hair Salon in Rye, said that while customers, many of whom are tied to the financial industry, are cutting back on high-end expenses like vacations, they "remain committed to keeping themselves looking good."
Miriello said that customers still want to get professional haircuts and colorings, but are factoring prices into their decisions.
In order to reduce costs, "we may recommend a quarter-head of highlights to a client who has traditionally gotten a half- or a full-head of highlights," Miriello said. "An accent of highlights may provide the fashion boost they're looking for at a price that fits their budget."
The hair care industry experienced growth of 2.8 percent in 2008, according to the Professional Salon Industry Hair Care Study.
While the study notes that this growth is less than in previous years, the salon industry is still faring better than other industries that are experiencing recession-related losses.
According to the study, "hair coloring experienced the lowest growth in years at just 3 percent, due to the recession and home-use hair color."
At Brenda's Hair Salon in Port Chester, a customer, who declined to be identified, received a trim at the salon but said she dyes her hair at home because it's cheaper than going to the salon every month.
"It doesn't look as great as it would if I got it done here, but it's much cheaper," she said. "I still come in to get my hair cut though. I wouldn't want to try that at home."
According to an article on "recession hair" by ABC News, sales of at-home hair coloring kits have "been on the rise since 2008."
Maeda cautions women against using at-home colorings. She said she's had customers dye their hair at home then visit the salon to have the color fixed. They often end up spending more than if they had initially received professional services.
"Sometimes they spend even double what it usually costs," Maeda said. "That's why communication is important. We ask, what are their priorities, what's their lifestyle? We want to work with customers to come up with a solution to help them."
Maggie Cochachi, front desk coordinator at X-S Hair Salon in Port Chester, said that the recession has reduced daily customer visits from 25 to 15 per day but business has been boosted lately by Connecticut residents coming to Port Chester for prices that are about half of what they'd find in neighboring Greenwich.
"They don't want to spend so much money on the same job," Cochachi said.
Cochachi echoes Girardi and Maeda in noticing fewer appointments for full hair colorings. She noted, though, that about five customers per week spend a base price of $300 on the popular Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy.
While salons aren't immune to the effects of the recession, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 20 percent increase in jobs for "personal appearance workers" is projected over the next ten years. In 2008, over 800,000 Americans were licensed in the beauty industry.