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Why the surging popularity of massage parlours?

By XN Iraki | February 17th 2021
The key attraction to massage is relaxation.

Adverts for massage parlours and spas have gone up amid economic slowdown. Yet this industry should be suffering in a Covid-19 ravaged economy. Is this not the luxury few can afford?

First, I have never been to a massage parlour or spa. The closest I have been is a foot massage in a barber shop. But I hear it can go beyond feet to whole body. There is no limit to types of massages including some using snakes! Add Swedish, deep tissue and hot stone massages to the mix, and your body is in Nirvana. There are also enough rumours about what happens in massage parlours. That only you can share with me…

The key attraction to massage is relaxation. Could we conclude that more massage parlours and spas is an indicator there is a lot of stress around? 

And why not? Think of economic slowdown and the stress thereof from Covid-19. Contrary to popular belief, the most affected by stress are the middle and upper class, sucked into the rat race, and tuned to the economic cycles. The lower class, the hustlers, are used to hard times and most of their products or services are invariant to economic cycles. Examples include food or transportation. 

Massage is a middle and upper class service. Its popularity is so counter-intuitive. There should be less of it as a luxury when the economy is doing badly. But think again, it’s an addiction. Smokers and alcohol consumers consume the products in recession and in boom. That is why they are so popular with the taxman. 

Some argue that with Covid-19, we have realised that life should be enjoyed when one can. The pandemic made us aware of our mortality. Could the surge in popularity of massage parlours and spas be a reaction to that realisation? This luxury could also indicate inequality, with some having enough money for luxuries amid a recession while for others, almost starvation seems to be their lot.

It is also possible that like mobile phones that used to be for the elite, massage is being devolved to the ordinary people, reaching a wider market, taking advantage of volumes to counterbalance fall in numbers because of economic slowdown.

This is the beauty of economic cycles; they help you understand lots of small things we take for granted. They help us perform free economic experiments and bring out the science in social sciences. 

We could also hear from the horse’s mouth. When did you last visit a massage spa or parlour? Were you happy or stressed? Talk to us.


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