Back in the day it would have been virtually unheard of to not open 5-6, or even 7 days a week in a bridal boutique.

It appears today some bridal retail business owners are forgoing that model. I have been absolutely amazed at how many are closed unless they have pre-booked appointments.

Is this a new way of doing business which is for the better and one which will catch on generally? Let’s weigh it up.

When taking on a premises on a leasehold basis or indeed purchasing it outright, you’ll already have invested a great deal of money, time and effort. You may need to check the conditions of your lease to ensure you are compliant with opening days – if the clause is there. 

Staff wages, heating, lighting, rent, rates, stock et al. It makes sense therefore to be open as many days a week as you can given the investments you have made.

If your doors are not open, it can give potential customers the jitters. They may decide not to buy from you through nervousness about whether you are going to be there for the long haul.

In the last 10 days I personally have read on social media about 8 bridal boutiques up and down the UK which have closed/are closing down for various reasons. On commercial websites, I see there are up to 90 bridal shops for sale at any one time. It’s a tough industry to navigate and be successful in long term. 

Customers obviously read about these closures/sales and it doesn’t help to build confidence in the industry. Losing faith and not therefore wanting to buy is a concern.

Customers may think you are closing down or cannot afford to be open every day – which given the current financial climate, is a normal reaction.

I do understand that every time you open the doors it costs money. You may have other commitments which make it impossible to be open full time. It’s a difficult balancing act isn’t it.

As one of my long term clients said to me yesterday, why not diversify? Offer space where possible to wedding related businesses. Seamstresses, jewellery, accessories, shoes etc. This can bring in some much needed cash which would help finance your business through choppy waters and onwards.

My client tells me she reads that some boutique owners she is acquainted with are now looking at selling prom, MOB, MOG and going back to stocking bridesmaids dresses too. One stop shops – space permitting – can give you a good chunk of business.

Speaking to a wedding dress designer acquaintance of mine this week – to research this blog post, she tells me an agent friend has also spotted that many boutiques close unless they have appointments too. 

In essence, it’s no bad thing to be only open for appointments, however, looking at the bigger picture, you will definitely miss out on walk by trade/enquiries. And, if you are unable to/don’t wish to be open every day, they will simply feel inclined to go elsewhere. They often have a very short attention span! Make sure you put processes in place to reassure them you are not going anywhere. 

Every time someone walks past your front door and it has a closed sign on it is not encouraging for potential customers. If you are open by appointment only any walk by customers cannot probably be seen then and there as you are going to be busy.

Here in Luton we were offered the fantastic opportunity to have a John Lewis & Waitrose mega store built just off the M1 motorway a couple of years ago. John Lewis apparently had approached the council to enquire about the feasibility of the development.

It would have been incredibly exciting for the town as a whole – which always gets a bad press. And, great for all the surrounding towns & villages too. A decent department store and a fabulous food hall, within walking distance of my home! Wow.

Unfortunately, the top bods at the council decided retail is not the way to go so are now lumbering us with several unsightly distribution warehouses on that plot of land. How shortsighted of them.

I’ve always believed, and still do, that bridal retail is the stand out success story of the retail world. As such, being the beacon of hope for the UK, perhaps we need to look carefully into opening hours to ensure this industry keeps it’s deserved place at the top!

I’d love to get your feedback.