Weddingwear – the meringue fails to crumble with the crunch

February 16, 2009

Latest research from Mintel finds that while money might be tight, Britain’s not-so-blushing brides are still determined to head down the aisle in style.  But things are not quite so rosy for the long-suffering husband-to-be, where cheap and cheerful outfits will rule the day.
The bridalwear market is now worth £128 million, having increased by 21% between 2003 and 2008, a particularly impressive performance in light of the rapidly falling number of marriages in the UK.  Today, Britain’s brides are clearly spending more than ever on their dress of a lifetime and are unwilling to compromise on cost.  In fact, the bridalwear industry is growing faster than overall womenswear, which grew just 16% over the same five year period. 
What is more, despite the economic downturn, sales of wedding dresses are set to continue to grow as Britain’s brides remain committed to wearing the dress of their dreams.  Indeed, by 2013 brides will be splashing out no less than £153 million on their dresses alone, an increase of around 20% on today’s spend.
” over the years, women have become more and more extravagant with their choice of bridalwear,” comments Katrin Magnussen, senior fashion analyst at Mintel.  “Buying the wedding dress is often seen as a once in a lifetime purchase and is invariably an emotional event.  With this in mind, it is very unlikely that we will see brides prepared to sacrifice that perfect dress in light of a tighter budget.  In their eyes there will always be other areas where money can be saved,”she adds.
Across the wedding market, there are no signs as yet of cutbacks as most marriages are planned at least a year in advance, so the impact of the recession has yet to be felt.  As the downturn deepens, couples looking to tie the knot will need to find ways to be more frugal and could well opt for cheaper reception venues or off-season wedding dates.  But when it comes to the wedding outfits, it is the down-trodden groom who is most likely to bear the brunt of the cutbacks.
Indeed, Mintel figures show that while sales of groom’s attire increased 16% between 2003 and 2008 to £38 million, over the next five years, growth is expected to slow to just 11%.
“Brides are likely to be reluctant to make cutbacks on their own dress, preferring instead to make savings on the outfits for their beleaguered husbands-to-be.  To reduce the overall wedding budget, grooms will increasingly be expected to opt for cheaper alternatives or a simple suit that can then be worn again in the future,” explains Katrin Magnussen.
Overall, the total market for weddingwear including bridalwear (£128million), groomwear (£38 million) and other wedding party attire, including bridesmaids and ushers (£54 million) was valued at £220 million in 2008.

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