COVID-19 Makes a Lasting Mark on Tattoo Parlors

Body art is big business and the state of California is home to some of the most famous tattoo shops and artists in the country. The market for tattoo artists has been steadily growing in the United States over the past decade, with the tattoo industry generating about $1.8 billion of revenue and even more money generated through body piercing services. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, many industry experts were expecting the tattoo industry to continue growing strongly in the coming years. However, when the pandemic began to spread in the U.S., tattoo shop owners and artists suddenly found themselves out of work. Given the close physical contact needed to give customers tattoos or body piercings, tattoo parlors are among the types of businesses most heavily impacted by the pandemic. It’s also left tattoo artists limited in how they can keep business going while their businesses were shut down. 

How COVID-19 Impacted the Tattoo Industry

As the pandemic reached the U.S., many people who had been planning to get new tattoos decided to put those plans on hold even before shelter-in-place orders went into effect. Large, intricate tattoos can involve several hours of close contact between tattoo artists and clients and many people simply did not want to take the risk. Once orders went into effect forcing tattoo parlors to close, tattoo artists were left having to cancel their upcoming appointments. Often, artists returned deposits that had been made on those cancelled appointments because of ethical concerns about keeping the money when it was so uncertain when they would be able to follow through with the work.

During shutdowns, some tattoo artists found new ways to work with clients, such as by offering virtual consultations and working on commissioned tattoo designs that could be completed later on. Tattoo shops have been using sales of gift certificates, pre-paid appointments, and store merchandise for extra working capital and, in some cases, artists have been keeping busy by creating other types of artwork to sell. Some shops have also started crowdfunding campaigns to help their artists out or did events like raffles for free tattoos to generate some extra money.

The timing of the pandemic meant that tattoo parlors lost out on business during Friday the 13th flash sales in March 2020. At many tattoo parlors, Friday the 13th promotions can draw very large crowds, but the spread of the pandemic brought on the need for limitations for any events planned this year. Some tattoo artists believe those promotional events will be less popular for some time to come. 

Even though tattoo shops have been allowed to reopen in many places, many people who had been planning to get a new tattoo may be forced to wait a while longer if they were among the millions of people who lost their job because of the pandemic. Since many tattoo parlors are switching to appointment-only systems for the foreseeable future, that means a loss of business from walk-in customers. Those who are eager to get their new tattoos during this time will also have to be willing to come in alone because many shops are not allowing clients to bring people with them to their appointments.

Thorough cleaning and sanitation practices have long been an essential part of tattoo parlor operations, many shops have had to make larger changes to keep them safe for clients. Waiting rooms have commonly been shut down and some tattoo shop owners have had to reconfigure their spaces to increase distance between customers. 

Business Interruption Insurance for Tattoo Shops

Given the nature of tattooing and body piercing, it’s very important for tattoo shops to be well insured. One type of insurance coverage shop owners may have is business interruption insurance, which protects business owners if they are forced to temporarily close. It covers operational expenses and monetary losses that might come up during a temporary closure, such as employee payroll, utility bills, lost revenue, relocation expenses, and mortgage/loan payments. Some shop owners might also have civil authority insurance coverage, which acts much like business interruption insurance but specifically applies if a business has to close because of a government order. 

Unfortunately, with the sheer volume of insurance claims being made because of the coronavirus pandemic, insurance carriers have been very quick to deny claims for business interruption and civil authority coverage. Often, they’re trying to argue that coronavirus doesn’t qualify as a type of physical property damage needed for these policies to apply. In some cases, business owners have said that their insurance companies have discouraged them from even trying to make a claim for business interruption insurance benefits.

Help for California Tattoo Shop Owners

Dealing with insurance companies can be a very intimidating process. Insurance companies will gladly accept the payments for your premiums, but they have a vested interest in paying out as little money as possible and will look for any reason at all to deny claims. 

Whether you’re considering making an insurance claim or have already made a claim and been denied, it helps to have someone on your side who understands insurance companies and how they work. The team at The Wallace Firm is experienced in taking on insurance companies and holding them accountable. We are now working with California business owners to help them with their business interruption claims. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.