What you need to know

Similar to wider furniture sectors, COVID-19 is set to have a profound impact on the bedroom market, with sales set to drop by an estimated 12.5% in 2020. Although this has it outperforming other sectors, such as kitchens and bathrooms, the market will nonetheless be hit heavily as consumers withhold, delay or redirect expenditure. In fact, 34% of consumers have delayed purchasing beds and bedroom furniture until after the outbreak. However, spending is then forecast to return to growth by 2021, before nearing pre-outbreak levels by late 2022 or 2023.

The impact of this disruption of the past year is set to be greatest at the higher end of the market, where the reduced appetite for bigger-ticket purchases is hindered by store closures and ongoing anxiety on the high street. Furthermore, within the market, the shape of demand has changed, as consumers turn away from often bigger-ticket, built-in bedroom furniture amid this continued fear of exposure.

However, despite being unable to offset total decline, there will, nonetheless, be new opportunities for growth amid this disruption. Foremost in this, extended periods inside have caused a rise in flexible living, and bedrooms come under a wave of new demands, whether to serve as spaces to work, exercise or home-school. These new pressures have driven sales for multi-functional furniture solutions, while the shift to working from home and increased childcare have boosted sales of work-friendly furniture, storage and bunk beds.

Moving forward, extended periods inside will see people reassess these living spaces and prioritise them in future spending, buoyed by expenditure saved elsewhere, such as in travel, clothing and entertainment. However, this remains subject to ongoing uncertainty, the volatility of which was highlighted by England’s second lockdown in November; although, the fallout from this could be eased by the recent development of effective vaccines.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

The beds sector covers beds and mattresses and can be divided into the following segments:

  • Divans – complete beds that are usually sold as a unit or set, comprising mattress and base, often with storage drawers built into the base.

  • Bedsteads – bed frames, usually with a slatted base, designed to be used with a separate mattress (or mattresses).

  • Mattresses – includes spring mattresses that may be of open spring or pocket spring construction, and memory foam and latex.

  • Others – including bunk beds, futons, headboards, bed ends, waterbeds and adjustable beds.

The bedroom furniture sector refers to all non-upholstered furniture and can be segmented as follows:

Fitted bedroom furniture (either ready-made or self-assembly/flat-pack) including built-in wardrobe/drawer units and completely fitted bedrooms incorporating the bed as part of the unit.

Non-fitted/freestanding bedroom furniture (either ready-made or self-assembly/flat-pack) and including items such as wardrobes, chests of drawers, dressing tables and bedside tables.

This Report does not cover any furniture sold on contract for the non-domestic market (such as hotels and hospitals) and excludes second-hand and antique furniture.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on beds and bedroom furniture.

  • How this disruption will change demand in the short, medium and long term.

  • Opportunities for bedroom retailers amid this disruption.

  • Performance of the leading bedroom specialists and non-specialists in the past year.

  • The growing opportunity for wellbeing in the beds market.

COVID-19: Market context

This context was provided on 13 November 2020.

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January 2020, with a small number of cases the following month. The government focused on the ‘contain’ stage of its strategy, with the country continuing to operate much as normal. As the case level rose, the government ordered the closure of non-essential stores on 20 March.

A wider lockdown requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise and work ‘if absolutely necessary’ followed on 23 March. Initially, a three-week timeframe was put on the measures, which was extended in mid-April for another three weeks.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 15 June allowing the reopening of all non-essential stores in England as well as the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers were able to reopen on 4 July, with many beauty businesses following on 13 July.

From 24 July, it became mandatory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets. Rules on travel remain fluid: from 10 July, travellers from more than 50 “low risk” countries no longer had to self-isolate for 14 days, but on 28 July the removal of Spain from this list of low-risk countries dominated headlines in the UK. During the course of the next few weeks, further countries (including France) were removed from this list.

By September, COVID-19 cases and deaths were again on the rise, heightening concerns about a second wave in the UK (following in the footsteps of some other European countries, such as France and Spain). On 22 September, the Prime Minister announced further targeted measures in England, which included closing pubs and restaurants early, encouraging people once again to work from home and making face coverings mandatory in more situations. Restrictions were also tightened in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, albeit with some variations (eg Scotland reintroduced a ban on visits between households as from 25 September). In England, the public were warned that these restrictions could last six months.

In mid-October, with COVID-related deaths and hospital admissions once again on a sharp upwards trajectory in many regions, the government introduced a new three-tier system of national rules. Areas classified as Tier 1 (medium risk) were subject to the rules already in force, ie gathering of more than six people in England is not permitted, unless it meets one of the exemptions, and pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm. Areas in Tier 2 (high alert) were subject to additional rules including a ban on meeting socially indoors with people from other households (excluding those in support bubbles). Areas with the most rapidly rising transmission rates were placed in Tier 3 (very high alert).

Tier 3 restrictions included a ban on meeting socially with anybody who is not part of your household, or support bubble, indoors. Pubs and bars had to close unless they were serving substantial meals and people were advised not to travel into or out of Tier 3 areas, other than for work, education, youth services or because of caring responsibilities.

Restrictions are different in each of the four nations, with additional restrictions in parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On 31 October the government announced new lockdown measures in England that took effect from 5 November to 2 December. These measures again require people to remain largely at home (except for work purposes), ban mixing between households and see the closure of leisure and hospitality venues and non-essential retail and services. However, unlike the previous lockdown, schools and universities remain open.

On 9 November, preliminary analysis showed a breakthrough with the first effective coronavirus vaccine, which can prevent more than 90% of people from contracting the virus. The vaccine has been developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of November. There remain significant challenges ahead, but if all goes well then the UK could get 10 million doses by the end of 2021. The UK is likely to prioritise older people, hospital staff and care workers, with people under 50 and those with no medical problems likely to be of least priority. This was then followed on 16 November by a vaccine developed by Moderna, which had shown 95% effective in preliminary testing.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP could fall by 12.4% in 2020, recovering by 8.7% in 2021, and that unemployment will reach 11.9% by the end of 2020, falling to 8.8% by the end of 2021.

The current uncertainty means that there is wide variation on the range of forecasts, however, and this is reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q1 2021. Its more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP doesn’t recover until Q3 2024.

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