Decline in marriages may hinder jewellery industry

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Office of National Statistics show weddings are in long-term decline.

It’s a revelation that is unlikely to go down well with jewellery retailers who rely on the bread-and-butter of wedding and engagement ring orders, but new statistics show that the number of marriages in England and Wales is at its lowest level since records begun in 1862.

A total of 231,490 marriages were registered in England and Wales in 2009, representing a further single-digit decline on the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Even though the final figure should increase slightly as the last remaining marriage returns are filed by register offices and the clergy during the next year, it still won’t be enough to beat the 2008 total of 235,794 marriages.

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The provisional number of weddings for the whole of the UK in 2009, meanwhile, is 266,950.

The ONS says the long-term picture for UK weddings is “one of decline”, from a peak of 480,285 marriages in 1972. In Scotland the number of marriages decreased 5% year-on-year in 2009 to 27,524, while Northern Ireland recorded a 5% drop.

Speaking to Professional Jeweller last month, wedding gifts and accessories specialist, Talking Tables, suggested the general decrease in the number of weddings taking place was being offset by a rise in collective spending.

“There are less people getting married, but average UK wedding spend has increased,” said the company’s product designer Sacha Dew. “The average table top spend is about £300 per wedding. Things like placecards, invitations and cake wrap can really provide the finishing touches.”

Some experts believe that the UK wedding industry is worth more than £5 billion a year, although that figure encompasses all aspects of the occasion.

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