Sue Lovell, of SNOB and founder of trade association BrideCo, gives us her thoughts about the current situation and the impact Coronavirus is having on the industry…
“What a hideous week this has turned out to be. Within minutes of Boris making his first official appearance, I sat and watched my diary empty, with panicked brides who are in the buying cycle, cancel their appointments. But, that still left the brides who have balances to pay, dresses to collect and fittings to finalise. Every phone call, every message and every email has been from brides telling me they have postponed their wedding, and so will not be paying for their suits that need collecting, or paying their balance owed yet – as they have lost thousands of pounds, as the insurance doesn’t cover coronavirus. Many don’t know if they will be at work next week, or how they will pay for child care to enable them to work.
With our BrideCo insurance, as with all wedding insurance, Novel Coronavirus was always an exclusion, but who ever envisaged a time where a virus would shut down entire continents. A lot of stores, like me have business insurance with interruption of business as an extra protection. But that excludes a new virus that cripples every type of business worldwide. Suppliers still want paying, brides who don’t marry for 12 months, who have dresses on order are calling, wanting to have dates when the dress will arrive, I am dealing with March and April cancellations, I will deal with August 2021 weddings when this crisis is over.
I am hearing that most suppliers are being very understanding, but not all. Some are wanting commitments for orders that would have taken place at London, but without seeing the dresses, without knowing how we are going to ride out possibly a month of lock down, many of us are not in a position to make long term plans. Let us get through April, and we will assess.
With the imminent weddings, the ones that have been cancelled, are the ones where the ceremony was taking place in Mexico, USA, Cypress etc. Destination weddings, where flights were cancelled, and the brides have had no choice. The majority of UK weddings have been postponned or cancelled out of choice. Brides not wanting to get married without all family members being there, not being able to have the flowers or cake they wanted, or worried about potential lock-down. The Archbishop has said all church weddings will take place, as long as the bride and groom are there, and the congregation is limited to 3 people, they can get married. But many brides do no want to go ahead, without their families, and they won’t get the wedding they have planned, but a scaled back version.
Whilst everyone is devastated by their own wedding plans being cancelled, and people are understandably worried about their jobs and their health, it seems churlish for me to be worried about business. But we need cash coming into the business for it to be able to flow out. And it isn’t trickling in at the moment. How do I pay my seamstress, how do I pay the suppliers – then how do we pay for our own personal bills?
We are in worrying times, and although I am of course worried about the effect it is having on the elderly, the vulnerable and the strain it is on the economy, I am also not coping well that I am living with 3 people who I do love, but finding out they are quite annoying when they are working from home. My house has suddenly got a lot smaller, my patience a lot thinner and my stiff up lip has wobbled.
Oh and in the midst of all of this, my elderly parents message me to ask if I can get some shopping for them, Of course I will, I tell them “whatever you want, I will get it” ( I will forage through Tesco’s to find a loo roll ) – “don’t leave the house”.
“We don’t need much, just Paracetamol and A Bird Table…”