From The Publisher: Summer 2021

After many long months of all things “unprecedented,” we are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest market event in more than a year—but we can't quite ignore the uncertainties that remain on the horizon. This issue of Sleep Retailer aims to navigate both sides of that spectrum, highlighting the products, programs and companies that are helping retailers manage the latest challenges and take advantage of the new opportunities for growth. 

A Growing Interest In Health & Safety

More than anything, we’re seeing consumers taking more time and consideration when it comes to choosing which products to invest in. Whether they are looking for brands that will help them prioritize their health, the health of the planet or both, these engaged shoppers are weighing more than just looks or price as they make their decisions. Our cover story company takes a closer look at one component supplier that is help manufacturers and retailers better connect with those buyers. With new glass- and chemical-free FR products, Precision Textiles is ensuring its partners have a solution for every new interest or concern consumers may have.

The State of Retail 

As consumers continue to return to their pre-pandemic spending habits, the economy is showing signs of major growth—but even so, it remains unclear what exactly that will that mean for mattress retail. Despite a lift in sales across the retail sector in June, the home-furnishings sector saw a bit of a dip. While not ideal, this decline is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, economists note that we’re seeing signs of healthy consumers simply shifting priorities now that they can go out more. And with American households accumulating more than $2.5 trillion in savings over the course of the pandemic, there is still plenty of opportunity for the sleep industry to see overall gains in 2021. 

Of course, with new expectations and demands come new challenges. That’s why we turned to three leading buying groups for this issue’s Q&A to learn a little more about how they’re helping their retail partners weather the difficulties of today. 

Why Hybrid Is Here To Stay

While the demands of social distancing have been challenging, the new solutions that arose over the past year and a half have created new opportunities and expectations we foresee sticking around. Hybridized shopping experiences not only deliver added convenience, they also allow consumers to do more thorough research—from exploring the options online to testing the out in-store. On the trade side of things, hybrid events make for greater accessibility and more flexible product introduction cycles. 

What Does Innovation Look Like? 

In a lot of ways, the bedding playing field has been leveled over the past few years. Online-only brands are partnering with national mattress retailers, while traditional bedding brands have seriously stepped up their ecommerce game.  This leads us to wonder: Who in the industry is really driving innovation these days? And what does that innovation even look like? 

We zeroed in one innovative new product category in this issue’s Product Focus, where we explore the world of voice-activated adjustable bases. These new models are designed to incorporate technology into the bedroom more seamlessly, helping consumers integrate new high-tech personalization features into their routine.

Throughout all of the pages of this issue, you’ll find new product introductions and updates that are keenly designed for today’s new retail landscape—with programs that are omni-channel, wellness-oriented and eco-friendly.

—Chris Schriever, Publisher