Britain’s tightening economy and ‘discount mentality’ is reflected in the latest consumer research findings from the National Bed Federation (NBF), which show that the average price paid for a bed/mattress was -8% lower than the previous report in February (£538 as opposed to £582).

Further evidence of a slowdown is indicated by the increased use of discount channels such as Amazon and Ebay (up +10%) and Argos, Very, etc (up +5%) from the last report.

A biannual barometer of consumer spending and buying habits, October’s report (based on a sample of 500 people who had bought a bed/mattress between March and September 2019) also showed further growth in the rolled mattress sector, up from 23% to 26% of all sales since February. Conversely, the proportion of sales of flat mattresses was down from 33% to 31%.

Generational differences are also clear, states the NBF. Comfort was the most important factor for 76% of over 55s, compared to just 56% of under 35s, who rely heavily (24%) on recommendations from friends and relatives. Just 5% of over 55s buy on recommendation.

Pocket-spring mattresses were the most popular choice for older buyers (52% of over 55s) while the under 35s were more likely to buy foam or latex (41%).

NBF marketing and membership manager Simon Williams says: “Although there are marked differences between the older and younger generations the evidence would suggest that, overall, everyone is ‘trading down’ and tightening their belts in the face of the current economic uncertainty.”

There was no real change in the split of online, in-store and mobile purchases, and direct sales from new disruptor companies also remained fairly static, at just 5% of the total.

In terms of nationals versus independents, national bed specialists attracted 9% of the under 35s, 17% of 35–53-year-olds and 18% of over 55s. On a regional basis, local independent stores fared better in the north of England than the rest of the country, accounting for 14% of purchases compared to the national average of just 8%.

The findings of the 10th consumer report, carried out by DJS Research on behalf of the NBF, are available in full to NBF members.