The latest COVID-19 restrictions on nuptuals have seen the wedding industry take an enormous hit on their businesses.
Liz Devine-Wright, owner of the Simply Devine Hat Shop in Tadcaster, has seen sales plummet this year due to the restrictions on wedding numbers and cancelled race meetings.
“While I understand there is a need to protect people from the virus, virtually shutting down the wedding industry could kill off some of those specialist providers for good;” she said. “So many couples have postponed their weddings until next year, but if we are going to be restricted for another several more months, many businesses are not going to survive. And you have to feel sorry for the couples – many of whom have been planning their weddings for a couple of years or longer.
“The wedding industry is a huge business – from specialist clothing suppliers to wedding planners, photographers, car hire, florists, stationery providers, venues and small independent specialist shops such as ourselves. The industry employs a staggering half a million people in 139,000 businesses and generates more than £10 billion in revenue.
“Having just a handful of people at weddings for the next few months means couples will not bother with all the trimmings – they will have a minimal service and then have a big party next year, meaning wedding businesses will probably miss out altogether.
“Simply Devine has been in business for almost 17 years, providing a service both to our shop customers, but also as a wholesaler supplying hats and fascinators to other boutiques. Our shop customers are mothers of the bride and groom, race goers and those invited to Buckingham Palace garden parties – all of which have been cancelled, postponed or restricted this year, while our wholesale customers are specialist hat shops, hat hire and boutiques. We’ve had very few customers in the shop and most of our wholesale customers have cancelled their hat orders – even though they had already been made and we have them in stock.
“The High Street was already suffering due to high business rates and online shopping, so small businesses such as ours and independent special occasion shops have had a double whammy in 2020. I am no financial expert, and I am not being political, but there must be a better way to deal with this, or the high street will disappear altogether.”
Simply Devine is an enthusiastic supporter of local businesses – it was one of the top 100 businesses in the country a couple of years ago, and is now an alumni and supporter of the Shop Local campaign. Many of those small shopkeepers stepped up during the last lock-down as local communities came together to help their neighbours and elderly customers.
“We have put special measures in place – as have all the local businesses – with masks and hand sanitisers available. As a small hat destination shop, we had also implemented advance booking appointments for customers – but there is little point in these measures for us if special events are cancelled.
“Simply Devine is in the fortunate position of owning their premises from which they operate in Tadcaster, and are also debt-free, so we know we will survive this, but many other businesses won’t. The high street is also in danger as many well-known brands cease trading, or move on-line.
“The business landscape in the future will look very different to how it did before 2020.”
- With thanks to our many customers for allowing us to share their photographs.