ISPA Releases Latest Research on U.S. Spa Industry

The International SPA Association has produced comprehensive research about the industry with the release of the ISPA 2010 U.S. Spa Industry Study. Produced in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the study covers six categories of economic indicators within the spa industry.

Industry Size and the Impact of the Recession

Spas, like every other industry, were impacted by the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. However, even with the decline, the "big five" indicators (revenue, spa visits, locations, employees and square footage) remain at their second-highest level since ISPA’s first study in 2000. Spas managed the recession by reshaping their workforces and creatively identifying new ways to remain competitive. "After many years of very rapid growth, all five of the key measurement statistics for the spa industry show a decline after 2008," said PwC Global Research Director Colin McIlheney. "However, many in the industry who took part in the ISPA survey report that they have been proactive in taking measures to combat the impact of the recession. Respondents are indeed cautiously optimistic about the future while also recognizing there are still challenges to face."

Industry Profile

Composition of spa types remained similar to previous years. Day spas comprise an overwhelming majority of establishments (79 percent); resort/hotel spas comprise the second largest segment (8.8 percent), with medical spas a close third (8.7 percent). Other spa types include Club, Mineral Springs and Destination spas. The largest concentration of spas are in the Northeast (24 percent) and Southwest (23 percent).


Spa establishments account for 76 million square feet of indoor space, made up of dedicated treatment rooms, as well as a retail element. Two in three spas contain massage-only treatment rooms; 71 percent contain skin-care only rooms. Four in 10 spas contain hair styling stations, one in two contain make-up stations. Manicure/pedicure stations are found in 85 percent of resort/hotel spas and 65 percent of day spas.

Services and Products

Spas received an estimated 143 million client visits in 2009. The primary treatments provided by spas are body or skin care services, including facials, scrubs and wraps (94 percent); massage services (86 percent), and salon services (68 percent). Wellness programs, including weight management and healthy eating, are offered by 17 percent of spas; and one in 10 spas offer fitness or sports services.

Prices and Composition of Revenue

Four main spa treatment and service categories — massage and bodywork, skin care, hair and nail — account for 78 percent of total spa revenue, though average treatment numbers vary considerably by spa type. Retail accounts for 12 percent of spa revenue, with skin and hair care products accounting for the majority of spending in most spas.


The spa industry employed over 330,000 people during the spring of 2010; 89 percent of spas provide a range of benefits to employees. Spas still serve a predominantly female clientele, though they are actively seeking to diversify the client base, with 45 percent of spas using packages targeted toward men. Other client groups targeted by spas include: wedding parties; couples; pregnant women; teens (13 to 19 years of age); athletes; families; and others. As a way of managing the effects of the recession, most spas have reengineered their menus. Seventy-five percent have introduced shorter treatments (30 minutes or less) to provide a less expensive option for clients with busy schedules.

The full study is complimentary for members of ISPA and available for purchase online at

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