The spending boom creating havoc with furnishing sector supplies, prices and lead times is also set to put many bed retailers back on track to meet 2020 budgets, according to a snap poll carried out by the National Bed Federation (NBF) of its Retail Champions (retailers which stock at least 50% of beds made by NBF members) this month, which has revealed that well over half (57.5%) of respondents expect to come in over budget by the end of 2020 – despite many weeks of zero takings during the spring lockdown.
Pent-up spending from the pandemic crisis has seen a quarter (25%) of reporting retailers saying takings are up by more than +40%. And eight out of 10 (80%) of those taking part in the survey are now doing better than last year.
The news follows warnings last week from both the NBF and BFM that the unexpected leap in demand was likely to cause disruptions to deliveries this side of Christmas. The associations also warned of unavoidable price rises as manufacturers face increasing difficulties getting hold of supplies of raw materials.
NBF marketing and membership manager Simon Williams says: “After a devastating spring when retailers were forced to shut up shop for the lockdown, the bounce-back in sales has taken everyone by surprise. The furnishings sector as a whole has been an unexpected beneficiary of a pivot in spending from holidays to the home, and it would appear that bed retailers are among those enjoying a boom that’s been described as being like ‘Christmas on steroids’.”
Some 40 Retail Champions responded to the NBF state-of-trade survey which, says Simon, also suggests a definite shift to more expensive products and higher average selling prices as consumers choose more upmarket, better-quality products.
“Most families have not been able to take their usual holidays this year, and also spent a lot of time in their homes," he says. "This has both heightened their awareness of what needs replacing and provided the ‘spare’ cash to buy it.”
Interestingly, while online shopping generally has accelerated dramatically since the introduction of Covid restrictions in March, only a third of bed retailers (32.5%) reported a shift towards online sales.
Asked what is currently their biggest business challenge, the overwhelming majority of responses reflected the huge spike in sales creating difficulties with: keeping up with orders; finding a bigger van; shops not big enough; and cashflow.
Other challenges cited included uncertainty about Covid restrictions and extended lead times, staying open with staff having to self-isolate, juggling with the ‘Amazon lifestyle’ (buy today, delivered tomorrow) expectations of customers, longer lead times and erratic deliveries.