Greeks Resort to Cutting Hair at Home as Black Economy Thrives Amid Lockdown

“I don’t believe it,” says hairstylist Giannis Dionysopoulos of the the poll which showed that visiting the barbers or the hairdressers is a top priority for Greeks once the lockdown is lifted.

Dionysopoulos, whose shop in the town of Pyrgos in the western Peloponnese remains shuttered, was referring to a recent survey by MRB, which perhaps a bit surprisingly had at the very top of the “to do” list “visiting the hairdressers.” Fully thirty-five percent of the respondents said that this will be their top priority when the bell rings and we are all let out of our homes.

“If you could see the men and women in Pyrgos you would realize that most had their hair done,” he says, speaking to Greek Reporter.

Dionysopoulos states that, defying the ban on gatherings outside the home, “Amateur hairdressers are visiting customers at their homes to offer their services, increasing the risk of infection.”

The barber claims that in the region of Ilia alone, where 269 barber and hairdressing shops have closed their doors, there are almost 2,000 amateur practitioners of the art who are driving from home to home to offer their services.

Maria Sotiropoulou, President of the Federation of Barbers and Hairdressers of Greece (KOKKKΕ), concurs. “The black economy is running riot,” she tells Greek Reporter.

“There are not any reliable data, but everyday experience shows that Greeks, men and women, are trimmed. Everywhere you go, be it in supermarkets, banks or pharmacies you can see that most have had their hair taken care of,” she says.

Sotiropoulou points to the dangers that hairdressers’ visits at home can entail during the coronavirus pandemic. “Unchecked movement of people flouting the restrictions is a public health hazard.”

She then explains that hair products are easily available through the internet — leading many amateur barbers and hairdressers buy these relatively cheap products and then offer their services at peoples’ homes, boosting the black economy.

Although her organization is not calling for shops to open yet in Greece, she says that the authorities could perhaps consider that the opening of some, under strict conditions which will guarantee social distancing and rigorous sterilization, could reduce the danger of the virus spreading.

“The next day will be very difficult for many shops around the country,” Sotiropoulou says. “Many salons are family businesses which will struggle to survive.

“Liquidity in the market will drop, as the economy will go into recession. People will spend less on their appearance, especially women, and this may force many shops to shut down,” she warns.

But there is also a silver lining in these dark times – human nature itself.

“From ancient times, human beings wanted to feel good. Our appearance gives us self-confidence. People may want to improve their mood after being forced to stay at home for so long. Maybe they will visit their hairdressers and barbers with the same enthusiasm as before the crisis,” after all, Sotiropoulou concludes.