The Effect of Fast Fashion On Bridal Boutiques
Many bridal boutiques are finding the market increasingly saturated due to the increase of competition from online retailers and chains. Siobhan Craven- Robins a wedding coordinator and member of the National Association of Wedding Professionals said, “I have noticed the closure of bridal stores in the last three years. The impact of online trade has had some effect on them”.
As a result, bridal boutiques are increasingly charging for appointments, with most boutiques charging between £20 and £50 for a consultation. Russell Blackburn, owner and designer of the award-winning Blackburn Bridal Couture, Lewisham, said, “The market has become over saturated, with lots of bridal options especially with the high street. We have been charging for appointments for five years, £20 in the week and £30 at the weekend. But for that we provide a lovely service.” Many shops refund the cost of an appointment, but only if the customer buys one of their dresses.
The change in approach comes as a result of high street chains and online retailers introducing their own bridal wear collections. Companies such as ASOS and TopShop are the leaders of this trend and their popularity and competitive prices are causing serious sales problems for bridal boutiques. A recent survey carried out by Bridebook found that the average amount spent on a wedding dress in the UK was £1,385 however the average wedding dress bought on the high street fell to an average of £780.
Although many consumers have accepted the new appointment fees, some stores appear to be against the scheme. Hazel Edwards, Director at Gillian Roberts Boutique said, 'We did trial it a few years ago and there was quite a negative feel from brides. Some customers saw it as being quite snobby. I don't think it is a very British way of doing things, having to pay to go in [to a shop]”.