Barber Shops

SIC 7241

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in providing barber and men's styling services. It also includes barber colleges.

This industry is primarily focused on furnishing hair care services for men and saw dramatic changes in the second half of the twentieth century. The latest available figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2007 there were 4,293 barber shops in the United States. By comparison, there were 81,632 beauty salons. Many of those salons cut men's hair as well. In addition, U.S. Census Bureau figures showed that 1,727 cosmetology and barber schools were in operation in the United States. Barber shops had an estimated $567 million in revenues in 2007 and employed a total of 453,682 workers. Barber colleges employed almost 16,000 and recorded sales of $1.2 billion. The majority of the establishments in this industry are sole or joint proprietorships that reflect a bygone era when most consumer's needs were met by shops in the town square. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, barber shops faced stiff competition from a growing number of no-frills unisex facilities whose sales continued to increase annually.

Most barber shops are located in older commercial districts of both urban areas and small towns. They serve an almost exclusively male clientele and are generally owned by a single person, the proprietor, who is usually a middle-aged male. All barbers must attend a barber college for a specified training period that varies from state to state, and they must pass a state licensing examination.

The service of providing men's grooming is more than 2,000 years old. The practice of trimming men's hair and beards began in the Macedonian area around 400 B.C. and then spread to Egypt and other countries. The word "barber" is derived from the Latin word for beard, "barba." The first people to hold themselves out as experts in the trade appeared in Rome about 296 B.C. However, in both ancient Greece and Rome, barber shops were seen as places of ill repute because men from the upper classes were groomed privately by servants. Throughout the centuries, men's beards were seen as symbols of intelligence and strength and were sometimes cared for quite meticulously. In Elizabethan times, for example, they were often dyed various hues and trimmed into unusual shapes.

For centuries barbers were highly skilled in the unusual adjunct profession of medical surgery, which they learned from monks during the Middle Ages. Barbers performed work that surgeons refused, such as bloodletting, leech attaching, and teeth extracting. After a papal decree in 1163 forbade clergy from letting blood while engaging in surgical tasks, barber shops gained a monopoly over the service. Organizations that regulated the profession first appeared in France in 1096 and later in England in the thirteenth century. The traditional red, white, and blue-striped pole outside modern barber shops is a remnant from this era as the red stripes represented blood, the blue stripes represented veins, the white stripes represented clean bandages, and the spiral pattern represented washed bandages twisting in the breeze to dry. By the nineteenth century, however, the two professions of barbering and surgery had become completely separated.

The modern barber shop industry in the United States was established in the early twentieth century. In the 1920s, two organizations--the Associated Master Barbers of America and the National Association of Barber Schools--were formed to regulate the profession. A barber's speed and efficiency have been improved by technological advances, including the use of appliances such as electric hair clippers and blow dryers.

Single proprietor barber shops providing personalized service to family of clients became increasingly rare as more young men patronized a new breed of corporate-owned unisex hairstyling establishments. These no-frills salons offer a quick haircut as well as access to the latest styling tools and hair care products. They are often targeted at busy families and are located in such high-traffic areas as malls and strip retail centers, offering convenience to a wide range of price-conscious consumers. Additionally, full-service salons that traditionally provided hair care services only to women began to attract more male customers. This development has been attributed to a heightened style consciousness among men and a greater social acceptance for men patronizing traditional bastions of femininity.

In the early 2010s, one of the largest providers of retail hair cutting services for men was Minnesota-based Regis Corp. With 56,000 employees, Regis generated about $2.3 billion in sales in 2009 from approximately 12,700 unisex hair salons, including franchises operating under the Regis name as well as Supercuts, Sassoon, MasterCuts, and Hair Club for Men and Women. Sport Clips Inc. of Georgetown, Texas, also catered to men at hundreds of locations in 40 states. Amenities at Sports Clips included large-screen TVs broadcasting ESPN at all hair-cutting stations. According to Real Estate Weekly, in 2010 Sports Clips was ranked in the top 50 in growth for the sixth straight year in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 and was expected to open its 1,000 store in early 2011. Other franchises whose target market was male included The Barbershop. Barber shops in the early twenty-first century competed with the unisex salons by offering male-oriented services and features. Sports Clips was an ideal example of this trend. Another example was the Major League Barber Shop, which housed pool tables and video game consoles in the front of the store and barber chairs in the back.

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News and information about Barber Shops

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