Barbershops across Thimphu town continue to see long queues of customers even three days after the lockdown ended

… Beauty salons in short of customers

Choki Wangmo 

Barbershops have become one of the busiest places in Thimphu after the country lifted the second nationwide lockdown that lasted for more than 40 days.

Within three days, LM Bhutanese Barber in Thimphu town catered to about 200 clients in his shop. On the second day, he received more than 70 clients seeking services such as haircutting and shaving. A haircut costs Nu 100.

He said that in normal times, his shop with three barbers received only about 30 customers a day.

Shiva Raj Thapa opened his new barbershop in Babesa in December. Before he could finish setting up the business, the government announced the second nationwide lockdown. When the shops were allowed to open, he received 12-15 clients daily. He earns Nu 70 from each haircut. 

The barbershops in the core town areas like Lalan haircutting salon has customers in a long queue as barbers work without a break.

Within the Thimphu Thromde, there are only a countable number of barbershops.

A customer said that he waited for three hours to get his haircut. Another who is waiting for a call from his barber said that he had to seek an appointment beforehand.

The haircutting charges vary from Nu 50 to 100.

Although social distancing was hard to maintain due to the compact size of the rooms, face masks, sanitisers, and Druk Trace QR codes were in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19.

The scenario, however, is slightly different in beauty salons. Many beauty salon owners said that the pandemic had affected business and they couldn’t recover the losses due to lockdowns.

Compared to the number of men visiting barbershops, a popular beauty salon in Thimphu town received only about 10 clients after the lockdown.

The owner of Namtra Beauty Salon said that she earned Nu 12,000 in the last two days from beauty services like facials, waxing, and haircuts.

A beautician Tandin Om said that it was difficult to earn Nu 500 in a day. She said that people could be saving money on essential items rather than on luxuries. “The customers who frequent my shops are mostly office goers. In the past, I used to get different clients including students.”

The owner of Glamour Hair and Beauty Salon said that she earned a minimum of Nu 6,000 a day in the past but now she barely earns Nu 1,000. “Materials are not available even. I have to pay high taxes and the dealers have cut me off.”

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office on January 29 stated: “For hair salons and barbershops, extra precaution to maintain proper hygiene and safety protocols will be imposed.”