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One in four brides wear David’s Bridal to their wedding. Now, it’s filing for bankruptcy

Apr 17, 2023, 12:00 PM

a person walks past a david's bridal shop window...

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: A David's Bridal store stands in Manhattan on November 19, 2018 in New York City. The wedding dress retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. The company, which will continue to operate throughout bankruptcy, is coming to terms with changing consumer tastes in the wedding industry and a heavy debt load. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    (CNN) — There has been a rebound in weddings the last two years after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it hasn’t been enough for David’s Bridal, the largest bridal retailer in the United States. The company said Monday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

David’s Bridal has been hurt by a range of factors, including inflation and competition from online retailers and secondhand retailers. A shift to more casual weddings has also made David’s Bridal’s elaborate dresses and gowns less appealing to some brides.

“An increasing number of brides are opting for less traditional wedding attire, including thrift wedding dresses,” David’s Bridal said in a bankruptcy filing. “These shifting consumer preferences have significantly exacerbated” the company’s financial crunch.

David’s Bridal has also been hurt by changes in how women shop for wedding dresses.

“The demand for formal wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and related accessories has decreased substantially in the current environment,” the company said in its filing.

Despite the bounce back in weddings in 2021 and 2022, they are still below pre-pandemic levels, according to CDC data. And fewer people have been getting married over the long run: Marriage rates in the United States have been declining since the early 1980s, per the agency.

David’s Bridal will keep its nearly 300 stores and website operating and fulfill all customer orders as it searches for a buyer for the company. It will also honor gift cards, returns and exchanges. But if David’s Bridal is not able to find a buyer, it could have to close all stores and liquidate.

The company has around 10,000 full and part-time employees, but last week it said it was laying off 9,000 workers.

David’s Bridal, the successor to a bridal retailing business that began as a single bridal salon in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 1950, said approximately 25% of brides in the United States wear one of its gowns at their wedding.

This is the retailer’s second bankruptcy in five years.

David’s Bridal said it made progress since restructuring its business during its previous bankruptcy, but is “suffering under severe liquidity constraints.”

“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,” said David’s Bridal CEO James Marcum in a statement.

Bankruptcies are piling up in the retail sector as interest rates go up and discretionary spending slows down.

Party City, Tuesday Morning, mattress manufacturer Serta Simmons and Independent Pet Partners, a pet store retailer, have filed for bankruptcy in recent weeks.

Bed Bath & Beyond is also on bankruptcy watch and is closing hundreds of stores.

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One in four brides wear David’s Bridal to their wedding. Now, it’s filing for bankruptcy