OWNERS of a bridal boutique who have lost more than £70,000 of turnover are calling for more support for the wedding sector.

Lisa and Chris Hogg want parity with hospitality, which has had the five per cent reduced VAT extended, as well as clarity on the roadmap and support if the industry is unable to open profitably.

Weddings and events support thousands of jobs in York and North Yorkshire, from catering to cake makers, florists and photographers. However, while many sectors were able to partially reopen between lockdowns, wedding suppliers have struggled to make any income.

Most are sole traders or set up as limited companies, meaning they are not always eligible for self-employed income or grants.

Lisa and Chris have owned The Bridal Affair for 12 years. Lisa said their Easingwold boutique will have been closed for eight months from the first lockdown until the projected reopening on April 12, with restrictive wedding numbers offering no hope of trading viably.

Unrestricted weddings will not be permitted until at least June 21, depending on Covid cases and the vaccination roll-out. The sector is seasonal with 79 per cent of business between April 1 and October 31.

“The business has lost in excess of £70,000 of turnover, the lockdowns coinciding with the busiest months for our seasonal business. Chris and I are both directors of a limited company, so it’s been an exceptionally hard year financially.”

Chris has taken on a part-time job driving for Tesco to help cover outgoings.

Lisa added: “As a family we have to all face the same mental health challenges that came with home schooling and anxiety that our business was directly tied into a sector that has not been able to trade at anything like its normal capacity for nearly a year.

"We took out the Government’s Bounce Back Loan, but as each lockdown came and went it has inevitably diminished.

"Brides’ dresses and new sample stock still arrive as our supply chain has held up during the past year, but this means no decrease in bills and we still need to keep paying all our overheads, rent, insurance, utilities, card payment fees and wages.”

Lisa said calls for appointments from April had been encouraging, but the challenge would be finding space and time for fittings and dress collections while balancing the need for orders for brides with imminent weddings.

“All the time we have been closed we have had new sample stock on the rails, depreciating in value, without the option even to sell off the peg. Our business model is severely challenged; our ability to make a profit will be compromised for months, if not years.”

The couple are backing the grassroots #WhatAboutWedding campaign which wants targeted grants, an extension to furlough/SEISS (to include previously excluded) and support, such as a government-backed insurance scheme to boost confidence.