Gloom sweeps Europe, unemployment keeps rising and pay rises are a distant memory. But hope for the economy arrives today in an unlikely, though beautifully coiffured, shape: hairdressers.
Perhaps it's the need for a morale boost, perhaps the increased urgency of looking sharp at work. Either way, hair and beauty is one of the few growth sectors of the economy. Beautiful Britain, a survey of 1,500 hair and beauty professionals, finds that at least 11,000 new jobs should be created this year.
The rise in male grooming is helping. Demand from men for massage and skin treatments is increasing.
But women have maintained their regular visits to the hairdressers in the face of austerity. The research shows that average annual bill for haircuts, colour and manicure comes in at £752.