GET SPA BUSINESS
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital editions of Spa Business and Spa Business insider magazines and the FREE weekly Spa Business and Spa Business insider ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
ISPA Research
Rate of recovery

PwC’s Russell Donaldson breaks down the spa industry’s resurgence and digs deeper into ISPA’s 2022 US Spa Industry Study


New research from the ISPA Foundation shows clear evidence of a swift bounceback in the industry’s key metrics right across the US. The pre-pandemic heights of 2019 have come back into sight, and the industry has moved well down the road to recovery as it welcomes back customers.

Challenges persist, however, amid an uncertain economic climate – not least when it comes to staffing – a problematic issue the industry has been facing long before the arrival of COVID-19.

At the same time, the so-called ‘new normal’ has created opportunities, with spas ever conscious of the need to show agility and make important choices and decisions to keep the industry moving forward in this new era.

A return to growth
The economic shock in the second quarter of 2020 inevitably had a major effect on the spa industry. The 2021 US Spa Industry Study, compiled by ISPA in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), showed a sharp fall in each of the industry’s ‘Big Five’ statistics in 2020, with revenues falling 36 per cent year-on-year, their first significant fall since the impact of the Great Recession in the late 2000s.

However, comparisons between these two periods of economic turmoil may not be all that helpful, as the pandemic saw a very different economic context to that of just over a decade ago.

The Great Recession generated a crisis of demand – people had less disposable income, so demand for activities such as spa-going fell. Conversely, the pandemic was a short-term crisis of supply and like so many businesses, most spas had to temporarily close, so spa-going became one of the many things people were unable to do.

At the same time, large parts of the population were able to save more money than usual, creating pent-up demand for the time when some normalcy resumed. That generated a ‘V-shaped recovery’ in the wider US economy – a relatively quick recovery after a sharp decline. And with consumers flocking back to spas, the data from ISPA’s 2022 US Spa Industry Study shows the sector has benefited from this phenomenon, with the surge in demand.

Industry revenues bounced back to US$18.1bn (€17.9bn, £15bn) in 2021, a 49 per cent rebound from the 2020 figure, bringing the long sought-after target of US$20bn (€19.7bn, £16.6bn) back into view. Spa visits recovered by 40 per cent to 173 million, and bringing these two metrics together sees a sharp jump in the ever-important revenue-per-visit metric which – at US$104.50 (€103.13, £86.79) – now sits at an all-time high for the industry.

This said, the visitation number is still almost 20 million visits short of 2019’s record high, so where have the other 20 million visits gone? Consumer data suggests this is partly down to people finding it difficult to get an appointment – but there is also a group of people who feel they need a little more time before they venture back to the spa.

So this means that, put simply, those who were visiting spas in 2021 were spending more.

The staffing challenge
We know the pandemic had an impact on the total number of spa sites and people who work in them. Despite the difficulties, openings and closures appear to have stayed steady in the last year after the 2020 hardships, with the number of US spas still in excess of 21,500.

The pandemic severely restricted spas’ operational capacity during 2020, and while the majority were fully functioning again in 2021, ISPA’s study shows that almost a third (31 per cent) were either operating at reduced hours (29 per cent) or temporarily closed (2 per cent). When asked about the reasons for this, the overwhelming factor is staffing.

For the majority (70 per cent), staff shortages are a problem; but staff sickness has also played its part (41 per cent).

ISPA’s latest research estimates that there were over 345,000 people working in the US spa industry in 2021, making it a significant contributor to the health of the wider economy. But staffing remains a hot topic for industry leaders. It’s not a new challenge for the industry, but few spa leaders would likely disagree that the pandemic has made it a problem of greater magnitude.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of spa professionals who responded to this year’s industry study said they don’t have enough staff to service guest requests, meaning lost revenue for the industry, but unfilled vacancies are an old problem. Back in 2019, ISPA’s research estimated almost 29,000 service provider vacancies. This year’s research estimates a 46,760 shortfall in total across all service provider positions, with around 30,000 massage therapist vacancies alone.

Looking specifically at massage therapists, half of spas responding to the survey said the recruitment challenges were driven by a lack of qualified candidates. A smaller number (43 per cent) said recruitment was being made more difficult by therapist concerns about COVID-19 and the close-contact nature of the work – perhaps a statistic that will fall as time moves on from the pandemic’s darkest days.

challenges & opportunities
A specific challenge for the industry will be reinforcing the attractiveness of the work to potential candidates, with many spas saying recruitment of massage therapists is hindered by simply attracting candidates to apply (39 per cent), work schedules (32 per cent) and perceptions of compensation (26 per cent). Perhaps it’s no surprise that 82 per cent of spas reported at least some level of increase in massage therapist compensation in 2021.
In spite of the concerns around staffing and the wider economic picture, spa leaders see cause for optimism. When asked about what they see as the single biggest opportunity for the industry in the US, many saw the current staffing challenges as giving impetus to further enhance both service provider education and staff wellbeing to help encourage greater retention of staff, with ‘workplace wellness’ featuring as a theme in a number of responses.

More widely, wellness continues to be viewed by leaders as a big opportunity for the industry, and is an important service that spas can provide as ‘safe spaces’ for the public at a time when concerns around anxiety, isolation and stress remain high.

In the wake of the pandemic, for many spa leaders the opportunity is for a return to what the industry does best. With many people becoming more comfortable with a gradual return to ‘close contact services’ and the return of travel and tourism, many see the time ahead as an opportunity to capitalise on what remains of the pent-up demand created by the pandemic.

foundation for the future
The pandemic’s impact on the US spa industry seems, thankfully, to have been a short, sharp dip and not the onset of a sustained downturn. Spa-going surged as the economy reopened and the pent-up demand for services was unleashed as people started to spend the money they saved during the economic shutdown. Spa-going’s resurgence has also benefited from the increased focus on health and wellbeing following the physical and mental scars left on society by the pandemic, with wellness on the minds of many consumers.

All the same, the sudden upturn in demand continues to shine a light on the industry’s staffing challenges. Many industries have had trouble recruiting during the pandemic, but for the spa industry it has made a difficult issue even more challenging and will remain a top priority in industry leaders’ minds.

The other major immediate concern for spas is challenges for the wider economy. The spa industry’s performance has long been regarded as a bellwether of the wider US economy – so far, demand generally seems to have remained steady, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s the impossibility of knowing what lies ahead. So, the risks of headwinds in the wider economy influencing the spa industry remain. That said, ISPA’s US Spa Industry Study 2022 shows that the spa industry has returned to a strong position after the shock of the pandemic and has real momentum to fuel its long-term growth.

Russell Donaldson / Photo: PwC

More: A full copy of the 2022 ISPA US Spa Industry Study is available at www.experienceispa.com

Wellness continues to be seen as a big opportunity Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov
*Count includes spas temporarily closed at the end of 2021
US spas are only 20 million visits short of the 2019 high Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Sabrina Bracher
More than 345,000 people were working in the US spa industry in 2022 Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

Beltrami Linen: the premium supplier for luxury spa and wellness destinations
Beltrami Linen’s approach to the world of spa is underpinned by a strong emphasis on bespoke design, where close collaboration with customers and their designers is always of the utmost importance. [more...]

Living Earth Crafts® - the first choice for world-class spas
Living Earth Crafts (LEC) is the world’s most recognised manufacturer of premium spa and wellness equipment. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Unbescheiden GmbH

Unbescheiden GmbH was founded in 1869 in Baden- Baden, Germany [more...]
Oakworks Inc

Oakworks is a US-based FSC-certified manufacturer of spa, massage, and medical equipment. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

About us | J Grabner GmbH
More than 30 employees have one thing in common with the company founder Josef Grabner: Their enthusiasm for nature in all its individual facets Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

19-22 Jan 2023

Les Thermalies, the water & well-being exhibition

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, France
31 Jan - 02 Feb 2023

Spatex 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
SPA BUSINESS
SPA OPPORTUNITIES
SPA BUSINESS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022
News   Products   Magazine
ISPA Research
Rate of recovery

PwC’s Russell Donaldson breaks down the spa industry’s resurgence and digs deeper into ISPA’s 2022 US Spa Industry Study


New research from the ISPA Foundation shows clear evidence of a swift bounceback in the industry’s key metrics right across the US. The pre-pandemic heights of 2019 have come back into sight, and the industry has moved well down the road to recovery as it welcomes back customers.

Challenges persist, however, amid an uncertain economic climate – not least when it comes to staffing – a problematic issue the industry has been facing long before the arrival of COVID-19.

At the same time, the so-called ‘new normal’ has created opportunities, with spas ever conscious of the need to show agility and make important choices and decisions to keep the industry moving forward in this new era.

A return to growth
The economic shock in the second quarter of 2020 inevitably had a major effect on the spa industry. The 2021 US Spa Industry Study, compiled by ISPA in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), showed a sharp fall in each of the industry’s ‘Big Five’ statistics in 2020, with revenues falling 36 per cent year-on-year, their first significant fall since the impact of the Great Recession in the late 2000s.

However, comparisons between these two periods of economic turmoil may not be all that helpful, as the pandemic saw a very different economic context to that of just over a decade ago.

The Great Recession generated a crisis of demand – people had less disposable income, so demand for activities such as spa-going fell. Conversely, the pandemic was a short-term crisis of supply and like so many businesses, most spas had to temporarily close, so spa-going became one of the many things people were unable to do.

At the same time, large parts of the population were able to save more money than usual, creating pent-up demand for the time when some normalcy resumed. That generated a ‘V-shaped recovery’ in the wider US economy – a relatively quick recovery after a sharp decline. And with consumers flocking back to spas, the data from ISPA’s 2022 US Spa Industry Study shows the sector has benefited from this phenomenon, with the surge in demand.

Industry revenues bounced back to US$18.1bn (€17.9bn, £15bn) in 2021, a 49 per cent rebound from the 2020 figure, bringing the long sought-after target of US$20bn (€19.7bn, £16.6bn) back into view. Spa visits recovered by 40 per cent to 173 million, and bringing these two metrics together sees a sharp jump in the ever-important revenue-per-visit metric which – at US$104.50 (€103.13, £86.79) – now sits at an all-time high for the industry.

This said, the visitation number is still almost 20 million visits short of 2019’s record high, so where have the other 20 million visits gone? Consumer data suggests this is partly down to people finding it difficult to get an appointment – but there is also a group of people who feel they need a little more time before they venture back to the spa.

So this means that, put simply, those who were visiting spas in 2021 were spending more.

The staffing challenge
We know the pandemic had an impact on the total number of spa sites and people who work in them. Despite the difficulties, openings and closures appear to have stayed steady in the last year after the 2020 hardships, with the number of US spas still in excess of 21,500.

The pandemic severely restricted spas’ operational capacity during 2020, and while the majority were fully functioning again in 2021, ISPA’s study shows that almost a third (31 per cent) were either operating at reduced hours (29 per cent) or temporarily closed (2 per cent). When asked about the reasons for this, the overwhelming factor is staffing.

For the majority (70 per cent), staff shortages are a problem; but staff sickness has also played its part (41 per cent).

ISPA’s latest research estimates that there were over 345,000 people working in the US spa industry in 2021, making it a significant contributor to the health of the wider economy. But staffing remains a hot topic for industry leaders. It’s not a new challenge for the industry, but few spa leaders would likely disagree that the pandemic has made it a problem of greater magnitude.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of spa professionals who responded to this year’s industry study said they don’t have enough staff to service guest requests, meaning lost revenue for the industry, but unfilled vacancies are an old problem. Back in 2019, ISPA’s research estimated almost 29,000 service provider vacancies. This year’s research estimates a 46,760 shortfall in total across all service provider positions, with around 30,000 massage therapist vacancies alone.

Looking specifically at massage therapists, half of spas responding to the survey said the recruitment challenges were driven by a lack of qualified candidates. A smaller number (43 per cent) said recruitment was being made more difficult by therapist concerns about COVID-19 and the close-contact nature of the work – perhaps a statistic that will fall as time moves on from the pandemic’s darkest days.

challenges & opportunities
A specific challenge for the industry will be reinforcing the attractiveness of the work to potential candidates, with many spas saying recruitment of massage therapists is hindered by simply attracting candidates to apply (39 per cent), work schedules (32 per cent) and perceptions of compensation (26 per cent). Perhaps it’s no surprise that 82 per cent of spas reported at least some level of increase in massage therapist compensation in 2021.
In spite of the concerns around staffing and the wider economic picture, spa leaders see cause for optimism. When asked about what they see as the single biggest opportunity for the industry in the US, many saw the current staffing challenges as giving impetus to further enhance both service provider education and staff wellbeing to help encourage greater retention of staff, with ‘workplace wellness’ featuring as a theme in a number of responses.

More widely, wellness continues to be viewed by leaders as a big opportunity for the industry, and is an important service that spas can provide as ‘safe spaces’ for the public at a time when concerns around anxiety, isolation and stress remain high.

In the wake of the pandemic, for many spa leaders the opportunity is for a return to what the industry does best. With many people becoming more comfortable with a gradual return to ‘close contact services’ and the return of travel and tourism, many see the time ahead as an opportunity to capitalise on what remains of the pent-up demand created by the pandemic.

foundation for the future
The pandemic’s impact on the US spa industry seems, thankfully, to have been a short, sharp dip and not the onset of a sustained downturn. Spa-going surged as the economy reopened and the pent-up demand for services was unleashed as people started to spend the money they saved during the economic shutdown. Spa-going’s resurgence has also benefited from the increased focus on health and wellbeing following the physical and mental scars left on society by the pandemic, with wellness on the minds of many consumers.

All the same, the sudden upturn in demand continues to shine a light on the industry’s staffing challenges. Many industries have had trouble recruiting during the pandemic, but for the spa industry it has made a difficult issue even more challenging and will remain a top priority in industry leaders’ minds.

The other major immediate concern for spas is challenges for the wider economy. The spa industry’s performance has long been regarded as a bellwether of the wider US economy – so far, demand generally seems to have remained steady, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s the impossibility of knowing what lies ahead. So, the risks of headwinds in the wider economy influencing the spa industry remain. That said, ISPA’s US Spa Industry Study 2022 shows that the spa industry has returned to a strong position after the shock of the pandemic and has real momentum to fuel its long-term growth.

Russell Donaldson / Photo: PwC

More: A full copy of the 2022 ISPA US Spa Industry Study is available at www.experienceispa.com

Wellness continues to be seen as a big opportunity Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov
*Count includes spas temporarily closed at the end of 2021
US spas are only 20 million visits short of the 2019 high Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Sabrina Bracher
More than 345,000 people were working in the US spa industry in 2022 Credit: Photo: Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com
LATEST NEWS
Treatwell beauty and wellness appointments now bookable on Apple Maps
Online beauty and wellness booking company Treatwell has recently partnered with Apple Maps to allow its users to easily book appointments directly within the mobile app.
Brain upgrade app launches to reduce Alzheimer’s risk
The Food for the Brain Foundation has released a new app, Cognition, which it claims can help people cut their risk of Alzheimer’s by half.
Kerzner’s fitness-centric hotel brand Siro to debut inside towering Dubai development
Resort developer and operator Kerzner International has announced its new wellbeing- and fitness-centric hospitality brand Siro is launching in Dubai in Q4 of 2023.
Arch Amenities Group announces acquisition of Hutchinson Consulting
Hutchinson Consulting has been acquired by Arch Amenities Group (AAG), a global provider of hospitality management and consulting services for commercial and residential properties, hotels, spas, private clubs and recreational spaces.
Sony unlocks the metaverse with the launch of Mocopi sensors for avatar creation
Sony has announced that it will be releasing a motion-tracking product called Mocopi in January that looks set to accelerate the services fitness and wellness and also entertainment and attractions companies can provide in the metaverse.
Ozone therapy, IV infusions and cancer screening coming to Kamalaya Koh Samui in 2023
As of January 2023, integrative health will be top of the menu at holistic wellness destination Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa in Koh Samui, Thailand, following the launch of its new integrative health facility, Longevity House.
Lumen expands metabolic health platform and preventative healthcare mission
Lumen, a health tech company that analyses people’s metabolism based on the CO2 and oxygen in their breath, has raised US$62m in Series B funding. The round was led by Pitango Venture Capital, with participating investors including, Hanwha Group, Resolute Ventures, RiverPark Ventures, Unorthodox Ventures, Almeda Capital and Disruptive VC.
Wooden skyscraper hotel in Swedish Lapland has rooftop Vana spa
The world’s tallest hotel made almost exclusively from wood, has opened at the birthplace of cross-country skiing, Skellefteå in Swedish Lapland, with the property's rooftop Vana Spa giving spectacular views over the city.
GWI partners with Therme Group to bring UK wellness research to Geography of Wellness platform
Industry research and educational organisation the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has announced that the UK is the latest country to be highlighted on its new Geography of Wellness microsite.
Aescape secures US$30m in series A funding to bring AI massage tables to US market in 2023
Aescape, a tech company building automated, data-driven massage tables that mimic human touch, has announced a US$30m (£24.9m, €28.9m) Series A funding round.
One Spa World extends spa and wellness operations contract with Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise ship and resort operator One Spa World (OSW) has entered into a new agreement with US-based golbal cruise line Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH).
Fairmont Windsor Park wellness retreat crowned UK’s Best New Spa at Good Spa Guide awards
Fairmont Spa & Wellness, Windsor Park, has been named the UK’s Best New Spa in the Good Spa Guide’s 7th annual regional awards.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

Beltrami Linen: the premium supplier for luxury spa and wellness destinations
Beltrami Linen’s approach to the world of spa is underpinned by a strong emphasis on bespoke design, where close collaboration with customers and their designers is always of the utmost importance. [more...]

Living Earth Crafts® - the first choice for world-class spas
Living Earth Crafts (LEC) is the world’s most recognised manufacturer of premium spa and wellness equipment. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Unbescheiden GmbH

Unbescheiden GmbH was founded in 1869 in Baden- Baden, Germany [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

VIDEO GALLERY

About us | J Grabner GmbH
More than 30 employees have one thing in common with the company founder Josef Grabner: Their enthusiasm for nature in all its individual facets Find out more...
+ More videos  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

19-22 Jan 2023

Les Thermalies, the water & well-being exhibition

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, France
31 Jan - 02 Feb 2023

Spatex 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS