Signs of recovery

Louise Dicks, Marketing Manager at Richard Designs, reveals a positive outlook for the UK bridal industry.

We can all agree that 2013 was a bumpy year for the UK bridal industry. Rumours have been rife that 2014 is looking better for all of us, but now that more up-to-date economic data has been released in the last few months, we can finally take a look at the possible implications for the bridal industry this year.

At Richard Designs we're lucky to work with my sister-in-law, Jennifer Dicks, who earned her degree in Economics at Bath university and followed on to work with a prestigious economics firm in Cambridge. Since 2010 Jennifer has been the business development manager for Richard Designs, focusing on UK and European stores. I wanted to share with you her take on the current economic climate and our predictions for the coming year.

In the first quarter of 2014 (January-March) the UK economy grew by 0.8 per cent and growth has now remained positive for longer than any other period since the start of the financial crisis. Although economic activity isn't as high as its peak before the crisis, these latest figures are very promising as they continue to point towards a strong and sustainable recovery.

Official retail sales figures have also been very positive, with the latest data showing a 3.8 per cent increase in spending compared to the same time last year (January-March 2014 compared to January-March 2013). This is a good indication that consumer confidence continues to rise, and should mean that consumers are much more willing to part with their hard earned cash for all types of goods and services.

Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that retail spending in the clothing and footwear sector of the economy (in which bridal retailers fall) has been particularly strong. Consumer confidence and therefore retail sales are likely to continue on this upwards trend. Factors such as rising house prices (which create a 'wealth effect' whereby homeowners feel better-off), falling unemployment (people not only find it easier to obtain a job, but also feel greater job security if already employed), rising wages (purchasing power is increased) and low interest rates (making saving money less worthwhile) all contribute to consumers feeling positive about spending more money.

So what does this all imply for bridal retailers? The UK economy has got off to a good start in 2014 and all indicators point towards a continuation of this positive economic climate. Brides-to-be will be among the general population of consumers who are more willing to start spending rather than saving or making cut-backs, and so will perhaps start making plans for long-awaited weddings. This should mean greater footfall for bridal retailers this year and also larger sales per customer, as brides are likely to have more generous budgets than in recent years. We hope that you've seen an increase of footfall to your store and that this has translated into orders.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the latest economic news - you can tweet to @AttireBridal or @RDBridal to start the conversation.

Contact Richard Designs

Victoria Kay
Tiffanys Wholesale Ltd
DHJ Weisters Ltd