21 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2021 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Industry indicator: ISPA's Big Five

News report

Industry indicator: ISPA's Big Five

ISPA’s 2021 study gives the clearest picture yet of how COVID-19 has affected the US spa sector. Megan Whitby reports

Total revenue dropped by US$7bn, but revenue per visit only decreased by 2 per cent photo: NDAB Creativity/SHUTTERSTOCK
At the end of 2020, the number of US spas had dropped by only 3.9 per cent photo: UfaBizPhoto/SHUTTERSTOCK
Findings were presented by PwC’s Russel Donaldson (left) and Colin McIlheney (right)
*Count of spas includes spas that were temporarily closed at the end of the calendar year 2020

Spas in the US experienced a US$7bn drop in total revenue in 2020, decreasing by 34 per cent from US$19.1bn at the end of 2019 to US$12.1bn.

This was one of the ‘Big Five’ stats revealed as a sneak preview to ISPA’s 2021 US Spa Industry Study at its Stronger Together Summit in May.

Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the report outlines overall revenue, number of spa visits, number of spas, revenue per visit and total employees for the US spa industry in 2020.

“These statistics provide the clearest picture yet of the pandemic’s impact in the spa sector,” says Lynne McNees, ISPA president. “We trust these figures, along with the full report coming later this year, will provide the industry at large with meaningful insights they can use to aid their recovery.”

Day spas fared better
The Big Five results (see table on p39) indicate that resort and hotel spas have been harder hit than days spas with average revenue falling 46 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Spa visits dropped from 192 million in 2019 to 124 million in 2020, while average revenue per visit shifted slightly from US$99.5 to US$97.5.

In addition, as of December 2020, 21,560 spa businesses were recorded, compared to 22,430 in December 2019. But these figures still include temporary closures due to lockdown.

PwC found that, as of January 2021, roughly 305,000 spa employees had returned to US spas, compared to the previous 384,000 in January 2020. Overall that’s a drop of 20.6 per cent of the workforce but contractors were the hardest hit with 45.3 per cent of them still not back at work.

Again, data showed that day spas fared better in these workforce metrics by a fairly sizeable margin. One in two resort/hotel spas (51 per cent) reported a greater than 25 per cent decrease in staff, compared to one in five day spas (23 per cent).

McNees remarks: “The time line for a full recovery is uncertain, but we’re confident that there’s considerable demand for spa experiences and that as pandemic-related restrictions continue to lift, spas will make strong gains.”

Grounds for optimism
Russel Donaldson, manager at PwC Research, presented the Big Five stats at the summit alongside his colleague Colin McIlheney, PwC global research leader.

The duo report that although numbers reflect the impact of the pandemic, things look hopeful for the industry. McIlheney says: “It’s clear there’s pent-up demand to get out to spas. There are definitely grounds for optimism for the later quarters of this year and particularly for 2022.”

He adds that it’s important that spas widen their customer database for a quicker recovery. “Personally, I could see demand rolling on, not just driven by old existing customers but being driven by a new even more diverse base of guests.”

Standout figures
For Donaldson, the most intriguing finding is “the fragmentation between different parts of the industry and the outcomes for day spas versus resorts/hotel spas”.

McIlheney feels the location metrics were the most remarkable. “With regards to locations, there were many people who thought numbers would fall off a cliff,” he says, “but the fact that there are still so many spas – over 20,000 – to choose from is very encouraging.

“In contrast, the drops in revenue and visits were expected and I anticipated they’d be in and around the mark they were.”

The US Spa Industry Study has been published by ISPA since 1999 and in the latest edition it surveyed over 2,050 day, destination and medical spas.

The association is set to release its full findings in July.

Originally published in Spa Business 2021 issue 2

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