The wedding planning industry in China, valued at nearly $500 billion, is facing a new challenge as the number of couples getting married continues to decline. This trend has become more apparent as the economy weakens and consumer confidence decreases. Officials are concerned about the impact on marriage and birth rates, which reached record lows last year and led to the first population decline in 60 years.
Yuan Jialiang, a former wedding planner in Shanghai, noted that the number of marriages is decreasing and couples are less willing to spend large amounts on weddings. He expressed pessimism about the future of the industry.
In 2021, there were 800,000 fewer marriages in China compared to the previous year, totaling 6.8 million marriages. This is the lowest number since the government began publishing data in 1986. The decline in marriage registrations will further contribute to the decrease in birth rates, exacerbating China’s aging population issue. Unmarried mothers often face difficulties in receiving child-raising or healthcare subsidies, and having children out of wedlock is generally frowned upon.
Ben Cavender, managing director and head of strategy at China Market Research Group, explained that many consumers in China are choosing not to get married and believe that raising children is too expensive. He predicted tough times ahead for the traditional Chinese wedding industry.
Before the pandemic, weddings were a lucrative business in China, estimated to be worth 3.6 trillion yuan ($487 billion) in 2020. However, this year, couples are opting for simpler and more niche weddings, with fewer weddings having budgets over 100,000 yuan ($13,736). The backlog of weddings postponed due to COVID-19 lockdowns has resulted in a busier year for some wedding planning firms. Jewellery companies like Chow Tai Fook and TSL expect demand for wedding jewellery to return to pre-pandemic levels, although TSL emphasized that the industry’s long-term future depends on the strength of the economy.
The economic downturn has particularly affected the middle class and the youth in China, leading to high jobless rates and reduced household spending. Wealthier consumers seem to be less affected by these macroeconomic challenges, and companies specializing in high-end or bespoke wedding services are expected to fare better than those in the low-to-mid-range market. Jewel Wang, owner of a network of stores selling luxury wedding dresses, experienced a surge in demand in June due to pent-up demand. However, she remains cautious about the future and emphasizes the importance of staying niche in the market.
In conclusion, the wedding planning industry in China is facing a decline in the number of couples getting married, which is compounded by the economic challenges and low consumer confidence. The industry’s future looks uncertain, and businesses are adapting by focusing on niche markets and adjusting their strategies accordingly.
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