Bridal retailers report sales surge since Sept. 11

There aren’t any statistics to prove that more people have been getting engaged since the Sept. 11 terror attacks-but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Retailers from David’s Bridal to Ashford.com and Bluenile.com are reporting a jump in sales of wedding merchandise including gowns and rings, the AP reports. The number of people setting up bridal registries is also up.

The surge in business is a pleasant surprise to the $70 billion bridal industry, which traditionally does most of its business from January through March as couples prepare for summer weddings.

“This is usually a quiet period, the least busiest time,” said Ingrid Kelly, director of special events for David’s Bridal, which operates 144 stores nationwide. “But we are seeing a tremendous increase in bridal registries,” the AP reported.

Some customers, she said, are moving up wedding dates from 2004 and 2003 to next year, the AP reported.

Wedding World Inc., a 19-store bridal chain based in Altoona, Pa., so far has a 22% gain in sales in November at stores open at least a year, the AP reported.

“The Sept. 11 event is giving the business more momentum,” company owner David Kaufman told the AP, adding that business got a boost from people in the military who wanted to get married before being sent overseas.

The wedding industry typically is one of the few sectors that holds up in a recession, though couples tend to scale back on expenses. There are more than 2.2 million U.S. marriages annually.

The post-Sept. 11 rise in bridal business surprised David Liu, chief executive of The Knot.com, a leading wedding resource, the AP reported. The Knot.com compared its online traffic during the first week of September with traffic during the first week of October, expecting a negative impact.

Instead, Liu told the AP that she found a 10% increase in bridal registries. The site also had a 17% gain in traffic to its marriage license finder, and has gained advertising from tuxedo retailers and photographers.

“Bridal is one of the very few businesses that is doing well, and totally defies economic recession and terrorism concerns,” Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Trend Report in Upper Montclair, N.J., told the AP. “In fact, the greater the uncertainties of the time, the greater apparently the eagerness to get married and form a family.”