Home/ Industry / Retail/  Weddings help retailers tide over pandemic blues

BENGALURU/NEW DELHI : Niche and intimate ceremonies with limited guests have replaced the big fat Indian wedding, and cost savings have resulted in higher spends on jewellery, sarees and personal products.

While consumer spending largely remained muted amid the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, wedding shopping saw a rise in the average billing of trousseau and jewellery by as much as 25% compared to last year. This helped unlock a significant portion of India’s $50-billion wedding market.

Pent-up demand on the back of rescheduled weddings pushed sales of gold jewellery recently, and higher gold prices may help match last year’s sales in value terms despite 15-20% decline in volumes.

CaratLane, which largely sells lightweight jewellery and engagement rings, said that with people cutting down on wedding ceremony budgets, there is more room to accommodate jewellery purchases despite a surge in gold prices. “The expenditure on lavish weddings has come down because of the cap on the number of guests, so money is going more into assets," said Mithun Sacheti, CEO, CaratLane.

A recent survey by The Knot WorldWide, an online marketplace of venues and wedding professionals, found that 90% of couples will be inviting only immediate family and close friends, while just 30% are keen on the presence of their extended family. The survey indicated that the traditional concept of an Indian wedding, one that spans days, has also changed with 27% of couples opting for small events in one day with limited guests rather than many large events.

The Indian wedding season, which typically begins around Diwali and goes on till end-February, feeds into an ecosystem of businesses, including for planners, designers, vendors, photographers and makeup artists, among others.

While the small shops that witness a bulk of gold sales are not seeing the same level of business this year, wedding shopping remains upbeat.

Suvankar Sen, chief executive officer, Senco Gold and Diamonds, said wedding jewellery was always in demand but savings in ancillary costs for weddings is helping more. “Spending budget on wedding jewellery is marginally higher by 5-10%, but consumers are looking within their budgets since disposable income hasn’t grown in the economic crisis. Tier-2, 3, 4 cities are getting relatively better response compared to metros in terms of percentage growth compared to last few months," Sen said.

Senco has seen higher demand for jewellery designs that look heavy but are lighter, and daily-wear diamond and platinum products. With the rise in demand for diamond jewellery, it has introduced an interest-free equated monthly instalments and a free insurance on products starting from 1,999.

According to an October report by brokerage Sharekhan on Titan Co. Ltd’s Q2 earnings, eight of the 12 top cities (excluding Mumbai and Pune) saw over 80% recovery in sales. “Wedding jewellery is seeing good demand and is expected to sustain in the near term," it said.

Saree and bridal wear purchases that account for a significant chunk of wedding expenses have also seen a bump in recent weeks. “Wedding-related purchases now account for the bulk of sales and are close to 75% of all sales post-covid," said K.H. Radharaman, founder, CEO and principal designer, The House of Angadi, an upmarket saree store in Bengaluru.

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Updated: 15 Nov 2020, 09:37 PM IST
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