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The Business of Bridal

Crate & BarrelWhere can you find the bulk of the bridal registry business? Look no farther than Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, and Macy's.
     Among all primary bridal registries, 70% of couples register with one or more of the three, according to a study by The Knot.
     Wedding registries generate roughly 3% of all home textiles sales, according to consumer research firm NPD Group.
     Research compiled by Design Research Reports showed that Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, and Macy's also led all registries for towels and sheets - which rank among the four most requested products on registries. Leading gift categories, in order, were cookware, towels, sheets, and bakeware, according to Design Research's Richard Babick.
     The recession had some impact, he said, with signs of a reversal.
     Data compiled by The Wedding Report, a sister company, "found that gift spending declined significantly in 2009 versus 2008 and recMacy’sovered somewhat in 2010," said Babick.
     According to Tim Yap, fashion expert at Tobe, a fashion trend consultancy, "Consumers, be it the guests or couples, are certainly more focused on living within their means and maintaining budgets. That said, registries can be as varied gift-wise and price-wise as couples make them, so there's even more opportunity for retailers across a wide spectrum to cash in."
     Yap estimates the size of the registry market for sales across all categories at $10 billion.
     Annual bridal registry sales of sheets run to $107.4 million, according to Design Research Reports. The leading brands, in order, are Hotel Collection (Macy's house brand), Martha Stewart (a Macy's exclusive), and Wamsutta.
Annual towel sales from bridal registries amount to an estimated $39.3 million. The top three brands are Martha Stewart, Fieldcrest (a Target exclusive), and Wamsutta.
     The average value of a registration in towels is $38; in sheets it's $97, according to Design Research Reports.
     New technology is a significant and growing part of how couples manage their nuptials, including registry. According to The Knot's 2010 study, 61% of couples set up a personal wedding website Target(versus 53% in 2009) and 12% used social media such as Twitter and Facebook for wedding planning (versus 5% in 2009).
     In 2010, 33% of engaged couples created a registry online. An even greater number of couples, 77%, chose only the Internet to manage their registries, up from 69% from 2009, based on The Knot Market Intelligence 2010 Bridal Registry Study.
     And The Knot should know. It is one of the most popular sites used by young brides and grooms to be, employing some of the latest functionality for planning that special day.
     One of the more interesting features of the The Knot's website is its "Gift Registry 360.com" a tool that allows couples to aggregate the lists they've created with retail partners such as Macy's, Target, Crate & Barrel, Bloomingdale's, JC Wedding, Bridal Shower, and Engagement Related PurchasesPenney, and Kohl's. Gift Registry 360.com also gives couples the option to download an application to their computer's toolbar that makes it possible to add gifts from virtually any e-commerce site on the Internet. The application is also available at WeddingChannel. com in the My Registry section, and is designed with the tech savvy in mind.
     "You can be standing in a retailer like Crate & Barrel, take a picture with your smartphone of the bar code on a gift and add it to your online registry," explained Sarah Newell, WeddingChannel. com lifestyle editor, "It turns your smartphone into a [gift selection] gun. It's the coolest thing ever."
     As cool as it is, major retailers don't leave customer assistance solely to outside planning sites. Tools to help couples with the big day such as guides as well as customer reviews are available BBB Bridal Biz is Boffoon most major retailers' wedding registry website sections. Couples can generally add products to their gift lists from anywhere on a retailer's website. Most major registries present featured products deemed popular with customers.
     So what are they recommending?
     Bed, Bath and Beyond - Featured towels include: Suite Collection Micro Cotton bath towel at $7.99; Avanti Premier Ivory Script Monogram bath towel at $19.99, available in mocha with ivory script only; Amy Butler 100% Cotton Organic Blend patterned bath at $16.99. The featured items found in the registry are also featured in general store offerings. Non-featured towels include all online offerings and are categorized into solid, print, decorative, monogrammed, and beach. Price points range from Color Solutions Bath Towels by WestPoint Home, 100% Cotton at $6.99 to Sublime Bath Towels, 100% Egyptian Cotton at $39.99.
     In bedding, the registry highlights queen-size sheets from varying price points such as the Simply Organic Sheet Set, 100% Organic Cotton, 250 Thread Count at $79.99 and the Amy Butler Work Sheet Set, 100% Organic Cotton 300 Thread Count at $119.99.
     Crate & Barrel - One of the more unique aspects of the Crate & Barrel registry is an online chat facility.
     The Marimekko brand is prominently displayed in the registry's features. Sheet sets run from $69.99 on sale to $139.99. MarimekMost Popular Categories Driven by Necessitiesko bath towels are also featured at $24.95. In-store availability can be checked online.
     Macy's - Customers will find many tools to choose from at this registry in addition to a well-organized array of products. Reviews are posted on the site and a five-star rating system provides an at-a-glance view of customer sentiment for each product listed. In sheets, 17 selections in queen size include the Hotel Collection Bedding, 600 Thread Count Stripe Sheets at $135, which are available in cool hues. Also among the inventory are Tommy Hilfiger "T-200" Solid Sheet Sets in bright colors at $107.00.
     Examples of offerings in the bath towel space feature Hotel Bath Towels, Turkish Collection in a range of cool hues at $40.00 and Lacoste Bath Towels Crocod'il Collection at $27.00 in bright colors. Both the sheet and towel spaces list sale prices which make discounts available of approximately 30-40%.
     Pottery Barn - This registry is arranged somewhat differently than others with an "Organic Bedding" section which offers a 400 thread count sheet set at $189.00 with monogramming available and a flaMost Popular Towels on Registriesnnel set without a monogramming option. The "Design Your Own Bed" section includes the Plaza 400 Thread Count Set at $170.00 and the Henri Ticking Stripe Organic Sheet set at $129.00. The overall selection for bedding and bath is more limited than other retailers surveyed and some products are offered only online or through a catalogue.
     In bath towels, Pottery Barn offers both solid and patterned varieties with solids at $29.00 and patterns at $30.00. Patterned brands include titles such as Postcard, Clara, and Snow Flake and all are at a 650 gram weight.
     Target - Club Wedd, Target's wedding registry, quotes different prices depending on whether the purchase is to be made online or in the store.
     The site gives couples the option to sort through 142 products in the sheet section by best sellers, price and customer ratings. A price sort from low to high starts with Room Essentials Sheet Sets in 17 solid colors and Most Popular Sheets on Registriesvarious patterns at $29.99. As of 10/19/2011, the low to high prices sort ends with 22 out-of-stock sets. Available at the high end is the queen Sky Collection, Elm Sheet Set - Multi at $159.99. Availability in sheets between online and in-store is mixed.
     The low-to-high sort of bath towels on the Target wedding registry begins online with Circo Multicolor Circo Bath ABC Multi Bath Towel at $9.99 and ends with Fieldcrest Luxury Bath Towel at $12.99 ($11.00 on sale). Most bath towel options are only available in stores.

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