- The credit-rating agency Moody’s has downgraded David’s Bridal as sales have fallen.
- Moody’s says the chain is suffering from a trend of casual, lower-priced wedding dresses that has created more competition in the market.
- The popular wedding brand Alfred Angelo faced a similar problem before filing for bankruptcy last year.
More brides want to dress down on their wedding day, and it’s hurting traditional bridal stores.
This week, the credit-rating agency Moody’s downgraded David’s Bridal, a 300-store chain that sells wedding and bridesmaid dresses, to negative from stable, citing falling traffic and same-store sales over the past two years.
“In our view, this is a reflection of the intense competition in the sector and casualization of both gowns and bridesmaids dresses,” Raya Sokolyanska, a Moody’s analyst, wrote in a note to investors.
The average cost of a wedding in the US hit $35,329 in 2016, an all-time high, a study by The Knot found. With costs soaring, brides are increasingly cost-conscious, creating a demand for lower-priced, ready-to-wear wedding dresses.
Anthropologie, H&M, Asos, and Reformation all have cheaper bridal collections. Meanwhile, traditional bridal stores such as David’s Bridal face pressure to offer similarly low-priced dresses.
But the market is now oversaturated with options, analysts and experts say.
“There are so many options for brides to shop now, and women have the option to shop for less,” Anne Chertoff, a wedding-industry marketing consultant, told Business Insider. “The market is saturated, and it gets diffused.”
Some stores have lost out. For example, the popular wedding brand Alfred Angelo, which offered bespoke dresses, abruptly closed and filed for bankruptcy protection in July.
David’s Bridal has made an effort to adapt to the trend.
“We have seen an uptick in the trend towards casualization in weddings, likely attributed to the increase in brides willing to shop online,” a representative for David’s Bridal told Business Insider. “We’ve certainly reflected this in our bridal assortment.”
The chain has introduced a range of casual dresses from $39 to $400, though these dresses tend to be less profitable.
Chertoff said one of David’s Bridal’s big problems was in its marketing.
“A lot of people think of David’s Bridal as a warehouse, but it’s not,” Chertoff said. “I think if they promoted themselves like some of these other stores such as Lovely Bride or Fabulous Frocks, it would increase a more positive outlook of the brand.” Lovely Bride, which has locations in many US cities, describes itself as “a bridal shop for cool brides,” carrying only a few labels.
Sokolyanska echoed Chertoff’s comment, saying the company also needed to improve its online marketing to draw in customers.
“David’s Bridal would need to continue making significant investments in digital capabilities and marketing in order to reverse its market share declines of the past several years,” she said. “These investments are needed to attract the bride early in her online-first research process and then provide a seamless bricks-and-clicks shopping experience.”