The latest results from the National Bed Federation’s (NBF) State of Trade report are in for the first quarter of 2019 – and reveal a tough start to the year.

The report shows that estimated LFL sales revenue fell by over -5% to just over £224m compared to the same period in 2018, and business optimism was 11 percentage points lower.

“The sales data from our members show that it is tough at the moment – and this doesn’t come as a surprise,” says Jessica Alexander, executive director of the NBF. “Optimism is low – in fact, optimism has fallen by a whopping 18 percentage points since Q3 of 2018, when it peaked at 33%.

“On the plus side, it has remained stable at 15% for the last two reports, covering the periods October-December 2018 and January-March 2019.”

Estimated unit sales in Q1 2019 also declined on a LFL basis, down by -3.5% to £1.86m. Other findings included a +3% increase in those reporting a more significant rise (more than 5%) in costs.

Jessica adds: “It was interesting to see from the data that one of the main factors likely to limit output over the next three months is going to be a shortage of skilled labour. One in five companies – 19% – listed it as problem compared with just 6% in the last quarter of 2018.”

The NBF Sales Tracker and Barometer of Trade report is available in full to its members via the protected members’-only area of its website.