UK- MOL- Barber shops are enjoying a sudden boost in business, with young men across the UK increasingly choosing cheap buzz cuts over more expensive flamboyant styles offered by unisex salons.

With stars such as David Beckham and Twilight actor Robert Pattinson showing off traditional shaved hair dos in recent months, it has also become distinctly untrendy to be seen with girly styles, industry experts said.

While the economic downturn has badly affected bookshops, music stores and technology shops, barbers have bucked the trend with more than 150 new shops opening in the UK last year, the Local Data Company (LDC) reported.

This rise, of 6.24 per cent, means more barber shops opened last year than any other kind of business, apart from charity shops.  On High Streets and in shopping centres, meanwhile, the number of barbers has grown by a larger 8 per cent while general growth of local shopping parades is far slower.

Experts believe the sudden resurgence is due to a combination of post-recession belt-tightening and a return to fashion of traditional hair styles. In particular, retro 1920s and 1950s cuts with short or shaved back and sides are very much of the moment, they said. David Beckham has, as always, led the way with a shorter version of the 1950s quiff. Twilight actor Robert Pattinson has also been sporting a classic short cut, known as the ‘ivy league’, which can either be smooth on top or textured.

The ‘varsity’ style - trimmed at the sides, with a side parting on top - is also very popular, while reality star Joey Essex has a more radical version - the ‘ fusey’ cut, longer on top with shaved sides. ‘Whatever Beckham has, people follow him,’ said Paul Taylor of Taylor Taylor barbers in Sheffield, a family business started by his grandfather in 1927.  He added that many of the latest trends require skills with clippers and shaving equipment - the preserve of barber shops. ‘Guys recognise it's a skilful profession quite different from a women's hairdresser's,’ Mr Taylor said.

Another reason for the return of the barber shop is that they are cheaper than more fussy unisex salons. Karen Waldron, who owns the Barber Shop Group, which has 12 shops, told the Observer: ‘They don't want to go to Toni & Guy, it's too expensive.’

Barber shops are also cheap to set up, requiring less space than hairdressers which cater for women, and the profession does not demand any qualifications or licence.

As other retailers have closed down, barbers are able to get good rent deals on small stores which would not have been available before the recession. For men who find themselves out of work it is an attractive option - requiring little more than purchasing chairs, mirrors and clippers.

Mike Taylor, director of the British Barbers Association, said: ‘Men are looking after themselves a lot more and have finally realised that the barber is the best person to cut their hair, not a hairdresser.’