It’s got a strange “ring” to it.
Engagement ring sales are down — and COVID-19 is to blame, apparently.
A plethora of failed romances due to the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the wedding industry greatly, resulting in a nosedive in the sales of engagement rings — a phenomenon dubbed the “engagement gap.”
“We’re still seeing it today,” Jamie Singleton, retailer Signet Jewelers’ president and chief consumer officer, recently told CNN.
To get back to pre-pandemic levels, engagement ring sales for Signet — jewelers for which include Zales, Jared, Kay Jewelers and Diamonds Direct — would need to increase 25% by 2026.
However, Singleton says the drop in rings didn’t come as a shock.
“So what’s happened over the past couple of years is what we anticipated and what we planned for,” she explained. “Engagement jewelry sales were lackluster in fiscal 2023, and we expect them to remain so for the balance of fiscal 2024.”
Singleton noted that bridal jewelry is pivotal to the company, as those purchases make up 50% of their sales.
And it’s not just engagement rings taking a hit, with the pandemic resulting in brides moving away from traditional weddings — and dresses.
Last week, national purveyor David’s Bridal filed for bankruptcy, resulting in more than 9,000 jobs being lost nationwide.
In a statement on April 17, David’s Bridal CEO James Marcum said the effects of the pandemic had a lingering effect on their sales.
“We have successfully modernized our marketing and customer interaction processes and driven our retail service levels to best in class,” Marcum said. “Nonetheless, our business continues to be challenged by the post-COVID environment and uncertain economic conditions, leading us to take this step to identify a buyer who can continue to operate our business going forward.”
In a bankruptcy filing, the company claimed that a shift in customer preferences led to sales dropping.
“An increasing number of brides are opting for less traditional wedding attire, including thrift wedding dresses,” the bankruptcy filing read. “These shifting consumer preferences have significantly exacerbated the company’s financial crunch.”
Data from the CDC earlier this year noted that weddings weren’t yet back to pre-pandemic levels, either, as fewer couples are deciding to tie the knot.
In the US, marriage rates were already in decline since the early 1980s, per the agency.
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