When you're heading into hard economic times, you may want someone with a gleaming pair of scissors and a sharp razor on your side.

Discount hair chopper Regis (NYSE: RGS) is bucking the retail malaise this morning, posting respectable store-level improvement during its fiscal third quarter. Revenue inched just 4% higher to $680 million for the company behind concepts like Supercuts, MasterCuts, and its own namesake salons, but even that improvement wouldn't have been possible if comps hadn't improved during the period.

Same-store sales clocked in 1.4% higher than they did during the same March-ended quarter a year ago. More importantly, the service side that makes up the lion's share of Regis' revenue mix rose by 3.3% during the quarter, the best performance at the company in eight years.

Product sales weighed that down, but that has to be expected. When you're worried about losing your job or about the high price of the gas it took to get your car to the salon, the last thing you're going to fall for is a last-minute pitch for pricey hair care products.

The important stat here is that Regis has never looked this good at the hair-snipping level, and that makes sense. Hair doesn't grow any slower just because the economy is slowing. Some of the harried and hairy may take a chance with a Flowbee or cave in to an enterprising coworker styling on the side, but most people will still go to a salon. With the tricky economy sending the pampered yet unkempt to cheaper alternatives than boutiques with European names and flamboyant designers, Regis is there to collect the masses with open arms and open scissors.

It doesn't always work that way. Target (NYSE: TGT) and Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO) each posted a 4.4% decline for March. However, it's different on the retail services side, especially with something as rudimentary and necessary as haircuts. Even though many of the hair and beauty care product specialists like Ulta Salon (Nasdaq: ULTA) and Helen of Troy (Nasdaq: HELE) are trading closer to their 52-week lows than their highs -- and Regis' own shortcomings on the merchandise upselling front bear that out -- it's apparently a good time to be cutting hair for $10 to $20 a mop.

Just keep on moving, Regis. Just make sure you don't run with those scissors.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never chanced it under a Flowbee, but he has been to a handful of the Regis concepts. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.