Millennials have a new attitude about weddings — and it’s sending bridal stores into a downward spiral

David’s Bridal has struggled in recent years. Facebook/David’s Bridal
  • David’s Bridal is reportedly considering filing for bankruptcy, Bloomberg reported this week.
  • The wedding and bridesmaid dress chain has suffered in recent years as trends have shifted toward more casual, lower-priced wedding dresses. It has increasingly found itself squeezed out by new lower-cost competitors.
  • 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, Bloomberg reported that David’s Bridal, a 300-store chain that sells wedding and bridesmaid dresses, could be filing for bankruptcy imminently.

The company has until November 14 to make an interest payment that it skipped last month. Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that if it is unable to reach an out-of-court deal with its creditors, it will be forced to file for bankruptcy.

In a statement emailed to Business Insider, a spokesperson for David’s Bridal said that the company’s financial outlook is strong and it has “ample liquidity.”

“We are engaged in discussions with our lenders in order to reach a mutually agreed-upon resolution designed to strengthen our balance sheet so we can increase our financial flexibility and further invest in our business. We don’t expect the process to materially impact business or interfere with day-to-day operations or our relationships with vendors and customers,” she said.

But the store has suffered for some time. In February this year, Moody’s downgraded its rating to negative from stable, citing falling traffic and same-store sales over the past two years and blaming its weakness on the casualization of weddings.

“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 in February.

The average cost of a wedding in the US was $US33,391 in 2017,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 earlier this year. “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 2017.

Lovely Bride
A dress from Lovely Bride. Facebook/Lovely Bride

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 in February. “We’ve certainly reflected this in our bridal assortment.”

The chain has introduced a range of casual dresses costing under $US100.

Chertoff said one of David’s Bridal’s big problems is 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.