Last year, the pandemic put our celebrations and milestones on hold, as social gatherings and events were adjusted to fit our computer screens. Stay-at-home orders shook industries that rely on in-person events, and the wedding business — a $73 billion market — was not immune. According to a recent report by the Washington Post, about 80% of pandemic engagements (a trend contrary to the COVIDivorce wave) postponed or canceled their ceremonies. But now, as people have adapted to pandemic life, so have their wedding plans.
In 2019, the average wedding cost nearly $25,000, with most going toward the reception, according to the Wedding Report, a market research firm. In 2021, couples are moving their ceremonies to small inexpensive venues like backyards, opting for simpler dresses and smaller cakes, and instead splurging on wedding rings. Experts are predicting an oncoming wedding boom and surging engagement ring sales. The trend is reflected in Tiffany's ($TIF) web traffic data. Tiffany.com's average weekly pageviews reached a record high at the beginning of February, hitting 20 million, up 418% from last year.
Kay Jewelers and Zales have seen increased activity, as well. Kay's Facebook mentions peaked at 104,000 around the same time Tiffany.com was experiencing an uptick in traffic. Zales' Facebook mentions hit 70,200, above its numbers surrounding pre-pandemic Valentine's Day 2020.
Olivia Landau, co-founder and CEO of custom engagement ring company The Clear Cut, says couples are buying more engagement rings than ever before. As the pandemic brought the closure of jewelry showrooms and a halt in diamond production, the Clear Cut saw a 150% year-over-year increase in quarterly sales revenue in Q3, which Landau says occurred during the pandemic. "Once New York started reopening, we got such an influx of pent-up demand, and the following months [were] our best months ever," she told the Business of Business. "When you’re in quarantine with your significant other, then you know if you want to get married and spend the rest of your life with them or not."
"A lot of our clientele are millennials that are more comfortable with buying things completely online unlike past generations, where they couldn’t imagine buying an engagement ring without going to a store and picking it out themselves," Landau continued. "Even before COVID, we’ve seen a shift towards virtual appointments and doing things remotely, and a shift away from traditional brick and mortar retail. I think the pandemic has accelerated this trend."
Diamond giant De Beers' fourth-quarter sales of engagement rings rose 12% from a year earlier, with much of that growth coming from larger stones, as Washington Post reports. Other jewelers are noticing more buyers seeking diamond-encrusted wedding bands for men. “Bridal revenue has literally spiked,” Amish Shah, president of ALTR, a New York-based company that specializes in lab-grown diamonds, told the Post. “Those who could afford it are getting even larger diamonds.”
Meanwhile, the wedding dress purveyors at David's Bridal have watched web traffic drop off, as more brides discover virtual showrooms and DTC dresses. Average weekly pageviews sunk by 59% from the end of February 2020 to the start of 2021.
Azazie, a Silicon Valley-based online bridal boutique, expanded its at-home try-on program and collection of cheaper dress options. Sales rose 30% in January from a year earlier, according to the Post.
The lack of activity on The Knot’s “How They Asked” Facebook page — dedicated to sharing proposal stories, photos, and videos — suggests people aren't as eager to publicly boast about their pandemic weddings. Mentions are down 90% from March, from 3.9 million to 1.6 million
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.