Choosing a mattress

The impact of the pandemic on consumer spending saw in-store sales of beds and mattresses slashed in half as the nation switched to online spending.

According to results of the National Bed Federation’s (NBF) latest – and 12th – consumer research study, the coronavirus pandemic and closure of stores saw spending instore drop from 42% to just 21% while online sales grew from 55% to 73%.

The study, by DJS Research, was based on a sample of 500 people who had purchased a bed/mattress between October 2020 and April 2021.

Said Simon Williams, NBF marketing and membership manager: “The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the whole UK economy and its effects on the bedding sector are thrown into sharp focus by the results of this research.

“When we asked whether people ordered online as a result of lockdown or social distancing concerns, 59% of the overall poll said ‘yes’. Interestingly 67% of the under 35s chose this method compared to 54% of the over 55s.

Despite the pandemic pivot to online, we remain confident that store sales will bounce back as, of those purchasing online during the pandemic, a promising 60% agreed that they would prefer to return to shopping in store for their next mattress.

“So clearly, while the pandemic influenced consumer habits initially, longer-term preferences remain for shopping in store where people can have a more holistic experience of trying before they buy.”

Time spent at home during the lockdown also made many more aware of shortcomings in their home. Researchers noted an increase in the number of people buying a mattress topper (up from 16% to 20%): possibly, said Simon, due to dissatisfaction with their current mattress, exacerbated by spending more time at home during lockdown.

The NBF research also showed that the average age of mattresses being replaced was 6.6 years – the lowest reported since NBF research began in 2015.

A staggering 75% of mattresses are also being replaced in less than 10 years (69% this time last year) with 42% of mattresses being replaced in less than five years (up from 32%). Among the under 35s, 61% said they’d replaced their mattress in less than five years.

Perhaps because more people were purchasing online, fewer had their old mattress taken away by the company delivering their new one, dropping from an average of 19% to 15%. Far more people opted to take their old mattress to the local tip, rising by 10% to 26%, although more than four out of five (83%) said if they’d known their old mattress was being recycled that would have influenced their decision.

Said Simon: “There are signs that people are giving a lot more thought to making sustainable choices when it comes to the disposal route they choose for their old mattress but the pandemic has, at least temporarily, interrupted that process.”

When it came to key factors in their purchasing decision, comfort remained the most important factor overall (70%) among respondents, followed by price (57%) and reviews from other customers (37%)

Full findings from the latest NBF survey into consumer spending habits are available to NBF members. Visit