The spa industry in the US has been boosted by another year of healthy growth, according to the International Spa Association’s 2018 US Spa Industry Study, which was carried out in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and funded by the ISPA Foundation.
The research is a nationwide overview of the spa industry’s size and performance and looks at data for 2017 through to May 2018. The report is the result of a large-scale survey of spa operators across the US. Respondents provided key metrics for 2,375 spa locations and this year’s estimates show a sector that continues to grow. Against a nationwide backdrop of higher GDP and employment numbers, there are increases in spa revenues, visits, locations and employment, marking the eighth year of positive growth since the financial downturn of the late 2000s.
The big five
Each of the ‘big five’ statistics increased in 2017, reinforcing the industry’s growth (see Table 1). Total spa revenue is estimated to have reached US$17.5bn (€15bn, £13.3bn) in 2017 – another all-time record figure for the industry. With the wider US economy growing more rapidly in 2017 (up 2.3 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent in 2016), the spa arena reflects this trend, with growth picking up from 3.1 per cent in 2016 to 4.3 per cent in 2017.
The last year has also seen a more modest rise in total visits to 187 million (+1.6 per cent) – the equivalent of over 511,000 people visiting US spas each day. Bringing the revenue and visits data together means that revenue per visit rose healthily in 2017, up 2.7 per cent to US$93.70 (€80.20, £71.50).
With overall employment in the US economy rising by 1.6 per cent in 2017, the number of people working in the US spa industry has reached an all-time high, increasing for the second consecutive year to 372,100 (+1.9 per cent). By a wafer-thin margin, part-time employees are now more numerous than full-time staff. The total number of part-time workers grew to 173,900 in 2017 (+5.7 per cent), compared to a more modest growth in the number employed full-time (170,900, +3.1 per cent). Backing up a long-standing industry trend, this year’s results show a further fall in the number of contractors to 27,300 (-22 per cent), with this group now representing fewer than one in 10 of the workforce.
Spa locations in the US are now at an all-time record high. Growth of 2.4 per cent in 2017 means that the 21,770 establishments surpasses the previous high of 21,300 recorded in 2008 just before the recession. The net increase of 510 spa locations in 2017 equates to just shy of 10 new spas opening every week.
Spas are continuing to use a variety of methods and techniques to ensure they remain well-positioned for further growth. Their use of modern communication channels continues to come to the forefront, with over three quarters (78 per cent) reporting that they offered social media promotions in 2017 and almost a third (32 per cent) offering special promotions to consumers who gave their spa a positive mention on social media or review sites. In addition, 77 per cent said they offered their clients electronic appointment reminders.
To keep themselves current, spas are actively refreshing their offering, with 60 per cent reporting that they are planning to offer new treatments in 2018 and 45 per cent planning to add new product lines. A recent trend is the continued rise of male spa goers and in accordance, 41 per cent of spas are actively targeting this key growing segment with special promotions.
Spas are also making behind-the-scenes advancements to strengthen the business, with 59 per cent planning to adopt new or revised standard operating procedures in the next year and 54 per cent seeking to provide employees with new training opportunities. This is a very positive trend as ISPA’s new Spa Workforce Study (see SB18/2 p44) shows that therapists and managers are great advocates for the industry – especially when they have a positive working environment.