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The possibility of same-sex marriage being introduced in Australia is predicted to boost the economy by millions, with some sectors expected to become busier than ever before.

Same-sex marriage has been prominent on the Australian news agenda lately, but one factor that is often overlooked is the significant economic boost that legalisation of same-sex marriage could represent. A senior economist has estimated that same-sex marriage in Australia could contribute more than $500 million to the economy each year. With more than 33,000 same-sex couples currently living in Australia (2011 Census), a new law that allows same-sex marriage could result in thousands of additional weddings each year, which adds up to a lot of money.

How will same-sex marriage impact the Australian economy?

Aside from small business owners directly involved in the wedding industry, such as celebrants, jewellers, dressmakers, florists, caterers, and photographers, many small businesses operating in other sectors are likely to see a change if same-sex marriage is legalised in Australia.

More couples choosing to tie the knot means more honeymoons and destination weddings, so businesses operating in the travel industry can expect a boost. This means that travel agents, transportation companies, boutique hotel owners, and other accommodation providers could see increases too.

Gift giving is an essential part of most weddings and engagements, so with more happening in Australia, retailers are likely to notice increased sales. More weddings to go to also means more fancy clothes to buy, so fashion retailers could see more formal clothing and accessories walking out the door.

Toasting newlyweds with a glass of champagne is so common it’s almost iconic (as is having a bar stocked with beer, wine, and spirits), so distillers, winemakers, brewers, and alcohol retailers can expect an increase in trade with wedding venues.

How can small business owners prepare?

Welcoming LGBTQI clients requires more thought than just slapping a rainbow flag sticker on your shop window (although that’s a good start). Here are some ways to get your small business ready for same-sex marriage in Australia:

  • Tell people you welcome them to your business. If you have LGBTQI clients who are satisfied with your business, ask them to tell their friends.
  • Update your website to communicate that your business is LGBTQI-friendly. If your business has an FAQs section, include information for LGBTQI couples, or write a blog that covers the topic.
  • Reach out to your existing customer base via email or other direct marketing to let them know your business welcomes LGBTQI couples. Alternatively, if you use accounting software, customise your invoices with a note that signifies your support for the LGBTQI community.
  • Consider sponsoring LGBTQI community events and activities, such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival.
  • Factor in the extra workload that comes with new customers and more orders. Think about hiring support staff for busy periods, or scheduling more time to handle a potential increase in quoting, order processing, and meeting with new clients.
  • Social media continues to be an influential marketing tool. Ask for images and testimonials from happy LGBTQI customers to share on your Instagram and Facebook pages.
  • Anticipate negative feedback. It’s wise to be prepared, so devise appropriate responses for handling complaints or negative comments online. Inform staff members how to handle them too – even prepare a script or protocol to follow.

Whether your business is directly involved in the wedding industry, or is likely to experience the flow-on effect that same-sex marriage could have on the economy, it’s worth thinking about how you can prepare and welcome everyone.

For more helpful small business tips, check out these resources.

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