Weddings now a $130 billion industry; expenses only seen going up disproportionately in most cases

Indians usually are value-conscious buyers. But weddings stand out for their grandeur

Indian wedding Representational image | Pexels

In the year ended March 2024, food and grocery accounted for $681 billion of India's retail market. What came next? Apparels? Consumer durables? Jewellery? In fact, it was weddings. At $130 billion, weddings, if seen as a consumption category in itself, ranked second only to food and grocery, when compared with other retail and consumption categories, according to a new report.

India is the largest wedding destination globally, with 8-10 million weddings taking place each year, according to Jefferies.

"Weddings have a deep cultural significance in India and drive large consumption spending, often disproportionate to income levels. Wedding-related spending in fact is sized at nearly Rs 10 lakh crore ($130 billion) each year, spread across a wide range of products and services including jewellery, apparel, event management, catering, entertainment, etc." it said.

This highlights the huge impact weddings have on India's consumer economy.

India's wedding market is nearly double the size of the market in US ($70 billion), but still smaller than that of China ($170 billion), Jefferies noted.

Indians usually are value-conscious buyers. But weddings stand out for their grandeur.

Jefferies estimates current average expenditure per wedding is around Rs 12 lakh (around $14,500), which is five times India’s GDP per capita of $2,900 and greater than three times the average annual household income of Rs 4 lakh.

Compared globally, India's wedding spend to GDP ratio at five times, is significantly higher than several other countries.

Interestingly, this spend is nearly two times the total amount spent (including both the bride and groom) on nearly 18 years of education in India from pre-primary to graduation. In contrast, this ratio of wedding spend to education spend in the US is only 0.5 times for public education and 0.1 times for private education.

"The spending contrast underscores the deep cultural significance placed on weddings, where lavish celebrations are often seen as a cultural and societal expectation," said Jefferies.

Weddings have driven huge growth across various sectors. Close to 50-55 per cent of the total jewellery market by weight is wedding jewellery, according to Jefferies. Also, of the $84 billion apparel retail market, almost 11 per cent is led by weddings and celebration wear.

While wedding spends vary significantly across income levels, spends relative to income remain high across. Hence, as household incomes grow in India, expenditure on weddings is likely to grow steadily and even disproportionately in most cases, it added.

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