Sleep Retailer eNews | August 6, 2020

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What To Expect At The Summer Las Vegas Market

A sign on the floor of a shop, advising customers regarding social distancing guidelines.

And details on some virtual alternatives to in-person attendance.

As the summer Las Vegas market approaches, it’s becoming quite clear that, at least for the bedding industry, this market will offer a stark contrast to the experience of attending the winter market. With numerous shuttered showrooms, limited staffing and appointment-only shopping, this event will likely feel safe but also scarce. That said, buyers will have many more options than normal when it comes to summer shopping. Rather than enduring the typical packed schedules and long back-to-back appointments in crowded showrooms, in-person attendees will likely have a very thoughtful experience as most manufacturers will have much more time and attention to offer each appointment. And, those who do not plan to attend the summer market have the option of tuning in online, taking virtual tours or coordinating with manufacturing partners outside of the market to learn more about their products and services—on a case by case basis of course.

Because there are so many unknowns when it comes to the industry’s largest summer event, we thought it would be helpful to walk you through some details about what you can expect should you attend. These updates include: precautions the International Market Centers (IMC) are taking to ensure health and safety for those in attendance and what attendees will be asked to do in order to enter the market. We are also providing a sense for which brands will be there. However,  it’s important to note that many are still deciding.

So here’s what we know so far:

IMC Precautions + Resources For Preparing To Attend Market

IMC has laid out detailed information around how each market it manages will operate to maintain health and safety protocols in the coming months. A combination of building access control to manage traffic flow, social distancing reminders and markers in elevators and showrooms, mandatory PPE, sanitizer stations and limits on space capacity are just a few of the measures the organization has put in place.

Here are some more specifics on what the market center is doing to minimize spread at market and keep participants safe:

Hand Sanitization

Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout campus and attendees will also be requested to wash their hands every hour.

Physical Distancing Will Be Mandated

Physical distancing measures for foot traffic, lines, restroom access and otherwise will be implemented as needed or mandated.

No Self-Service Food

Attendees can get food from contracted national providers only. Pre-wrapped grab-and-go options will be the primary offering.

No In-Person Events

IMC is switching its in-person gatherings to virtual experiences. Lounges and other gathering areas will be closed.

Here are some ways you can prepare to go:

Register Ahead Of Time

IMC requires that attendees pre-register to cut down on lines. If you do not pre-register, you will be asked to step out of the queue and complete the registration process on a mobile device.

Expect To Have Your Temperature Taken

Touch-less temperature checks, either by thermometer or thermal imaging equipment, will be administered each time you enter a building

Wear Personal Protective Equipment

IMC asks that  appropriate masks or face shields as approved by the CDC be properly worn by visitors at all times inside or around the building. This means your mask must cover your nose AND mouth the entire time and be of a three-ply thickness (whether reusable or disposable). Face shields can be used sans mask if needed for a medical reason, but they must cover the face fully from forehead to below the wearer’s chin and wrap around the sides of the wearer's face. If you somehow manage to forget your mask, you’ll be provided with a disposable mask, along with sanitizer and an info sheet outlining measures you’ll need to take to be in any given IMC building.

You can find even more detail here, including information around how IMC is mitigating spread via enhanced housekeeping, protective measures relating to freight as well as more information on requirements for tenants and exhibitors.

What Are Manufacturers Doing?

So far, the jury is still out on which exhibitors will be in attendance. What we know so far is that Malouf and Corsicana plan to have open showrooms but ask that retailers make appointments. They’ve also both developed options for retailers who are staying home in the form of virtual tours. King Koil, Eclipse, Magniflex and MLily plan to open their showrooms (so far) but will require appointments and limit staffing. Serta Simmons, Spring Air, Symbol, Englander and Southerland are keeping their showrooms closed. Serta Simmons has plans to host a virtual trade show of its own at the end of September. And Southerland is offering a new program called “Southerland Connects” giving its staff and partners several safe options to meet including - mailed samples, private showroom tours and factory meetings.

While summer Las Vegas market will look and feel much different than the markets of yore, we see some of the updates and the innovative alternatives being developed by manufacturers as exciting opportunities to re-think the retail buying process and ultimately, how sleep retailers and manufacturers alike do business. On the positive side of this, many of the in-person alternatives, like 3D virtual tours, virtual lounges and events offered by IMC as well as virtual live appointments are all options that make market more accessible to a much wider audience. This inclusivity could very well engage individuals who haven’t been able to participate in the past. The same sorts of alternatives might be valuable for retailers to implement on the consumer side—not just for the moment, but also beyond the pandemic.

As we learn more about which companies will be at market as well as the alternatives offered by those who will not, we will continue to provide updates and coverage to help retailers connect with current partners and explore new partnerships in the coming months. If you are a manufacturer and have updates to share with us, feel free to email us at elaina@sleepretailer.com or gretchen@sleepretailer.com.

Read more here, here and here 


Sustainability Is Not A Luxury—It’s A Necessity

Sustainability - Thoughtful businesswoman seen through window

What new investment trends are saying about the value of sustainability. 

We’ve been talking about sustainability in the bedding industry for a long time. From eco-friendly” components to fully certified organic mattresses, there are plenty of different types of environmentally-conscious sleep products available today. But many people still consider this to be a niche category and have debated its true value—sure, some consumers may say they’re interested, but are they really willing to pay for it? New research about “sustainable investing” is offering important context for these questions. Rather than focusing solely on monetary value, sustainable or “ESG” investing also takes into account the company or fund’s approach to environmentalism, social issues and corporate governance standards as well. Not only has the interest in this type of investing grown over the years—it has also held steady amidst the financial crisis of the pandemic. And this points to a meaningful shift in what both the market and consumers really value. Sustainability is no longer seen as a luxury, but a necessity for all.

The interest in sustainable investing has grown significantly over the years. While investors have long indicated that social and environmental concerns were important to them—2020 was the year that they really began to back up this interest with their dollars. According to Gallup, investors in February of this year noted that they were “most likely” to invest in funds focused on reducing pollution (81%), promoting responsible corporate governance (78%), promoting worker rights (74%) and promoting racial equality (72%). In the first six months of this year, more than $15 billion has already been dedicated to sustainable investments, according to research provider ETF Flows.

The dam has broken,” said Dave Nadig, ETF Flows’ chief investment officer and director of research, told Marketwatch. “This is the year it came out of the backroom and became a reality.”

Of course, with the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent financial crisis, many worried that this growing interest in sustainability would be pushed to the back-burner. But it turned out that was not the case at all.

In mid-May, Wells Fargo and Gallup polled US investors and found that the pandemic-driven stock market crash in March did not have a significant negative impact on the interest in sustainable investing. In fact, the number of US investors who said they were “very or somewhat interested” in sustainable investing funds only dropped from 52% in mid-February to 46% in mid-May. This is particularly notable because this decrease was negligible compared to the sharp decline of the market as a whole—which went from soaring highs in early February to catastrophic lows in March, and only tentative rebounds in the months following.

The resiliency of sustainable investing amidst the economic crisis marks an important shift in how we view social, political and environmental issues. “A lot of the critical commentary aimed at ESG investing in recent years has been this belief that its a luxury good,” explained NPR correspondent Chris Farrell on Marketplace recently. “And people typically cut back on luxury goods when times are tough. Well, the economists conclude that since investors have not only stuck with but embraced sustainable investing during the major crisis, it suggests that they view sustainability as a necessity, rather than a luxury good.”

But it’s not just that some people are now prioritizing social good over maximizing their financial returns. It turns out that companies and funds with high ESG ratings are not as risky an investment as they were once seen. According to the February Gallup poll, the majority of investors (69%) believe that sustainable investing funds generally match the market average, while just 24% believe they perform worse.

There’s plenty of experts who agree as well. Analysis from Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Harvard Business School, Oxford, MSCI, TIAA-CREF and UBS have all concluded that taking into account the environmental, social and governance insights when making investment decisions does not sacrifice performance. And a number of leading investment management companies have found that sustainable investments have actually outperformed traditional investments in 2020.

Put simply: there’s very little difference in returns whether you are investing for money alone or investing for money and values.

But looking ahead to the future, there may be even more compelling evidence for why companies with more sustainable practices are the more responsible investment choice. According to a new survey from the deVere Group, an independent financial advisory firm: more than half of investors surveyed actually consider sustainable investments to be safe havens.” Meaning, they are the less risky choice. This is, in part, because many believe that companies committed to sustainability are better prepared for future challenges.

So Why Should Any Of This Matter To You?

Looking at investment data is a helpful way to forecast for the future. More than simply driving money into certain categories, these trends also reflect consumer interests. Sustainable investing is now seen as less risky because these companies are better aligned with the values that are driving consumer purchasing decisions.

In the past, it had been assumed that consumer interest in sustainability would be abandoned in times of economic hardship. But this financial crisis is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s putting into stark focus the severity of many underlying social issues—from wealth inequality and unsafe labor practices to the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income and communities of color.

As the focus on these issues continues to grow more generally, the interest in companies that promote more socially conscious practices are expected to as well. According to a new Retail & Sustainability Survey by CGS, an enterprise technology company, 51% of consumers in the US and the UK reported that sustainability played an important role in their retail decisions. The company surveyed 2,000 consumers and found that 56% of US shoppers said they would pay more for a sustainable option—with a quarter of all respondents saying they would pay up to 25% more. What may be more important to some brands is the flipside of that equation: 30% reported that they would not purchase from a brand that didnt use sustainable practices.

And yet despite this demand, many companies are still lacking when it comes to communicating their sustainability commitment to consumers. The CGS survey found that 50% of respondents believe brands are not demonstrating their practices—and 27% believe that even though some brands are, they could still be doing more. Beyond that, there is also a lot of confusion around what sustainability really means. According to the survey, 24% of consumers defined sustainability as being “eco-friendly and reducing waste,” while 22% defined it as “comprising ethical practices.”

As consumers grow more interested in social and environmental issues, they are becoming more discerning shoppers. In order to really engage with consumers, it’s important to be as clear and specific as possible in your marketing and communication—and avoid parading social good and sustainability initiatives in a disingenuous way. Third-party accreditations and detailed labeling programs can help brands stand out amongst anygreen-washing” and give greater credibility to marketing claims. As can more detailed messaging about specific sustainability efforts. Which companies have pledged to off-set or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? Which companies have transitioned to using renewable energy? Which companies are dedicated to fostering racial equity amongst their team? Being thoughtful about what you do, how you do it and how you communicate it will reflect well on your company. It will positively impact how customers and investors alike perceive your business—and its ability to succeed in the long-term.

Whether you are looking at investors or consumers, one thing is clear: sustainability has become increasingly important. Rather than seeing environmental considerations, positive labor practices and corporate governance as simply morally good, it’s important to remember that they are also good for business. And both manufacturers and retailers should keep that in mind as they prepare for the future.

Read more here, here, here, here, here and here.


Meditation And Sleep

woman sitting on her bed and meditating alone during the morning at home

The types of meditation, the science behind whether or not meditation can help you sleep, advice for your meditation practice—and a curated list of tools to get started.

According to the National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the use of meditation among adults in the United States tripled between 2012 and 2017—jumping from just 4.1 % reporting the use of some form of meditative practice to 14.2 %. Obviously meditation is gaining popularity in America, but what exactly defines meditation and why might more Americans be practicing it today?

Generally speaking, meditation involves basically being quiet and contemplative in a specific physical position—whether that be a form of sitting, standing, walking, lying down or holding a yoga pose. But there’s a bit more to it than that. While meditation involves contemplation, the goal is to choose a focus and stick with it. Some forms aim to allow thoughts to come, be acknowledged and move on or encourage the practitioner to closely monitor their breath, get pulled in to the rhythm and eliminate other possible distractions.

Types of Meditation

We explored six popular categories of meditative practice as outlined in this article from Healthline:

Mindfulness Meditation

Most popular in the West, mindfulness meditation stems from Buddhist teaching. In order to practice mindfulness meditation,  one must allow thoughts to essentially float by. The trick is to be aware and acknowledge thoughts, feelings, emotions and bodily sensations without getting too wrapped up in them. Concentrating on the physical sensations is a great way to resist letting your mind wander too deep into a passing thought while practicing mindfulness meditation.

Spiritual Meditation

While in practice all types of meditation may feel similar, spiritual meditation has a differing goal than mindfulness. Spiritual meditation aims to more closely connect the practitioner with their God and the universe. Spiritual meditation practitioners also often employ essential oils to enhance the experience. This form of meditation is practiced both in homes and places of worship.

Focused Meditation

The name here pretty much sums it up: focused meditation requires specific focus on one or more of the five senses. Practitioners can focus meditation on breath, sense of smell or hearing and can also bring external stimuli into the practice—something to zero in on visually and mentally, like looking at a flickering flame or counting objects.

Movement Meditation

Again, the name is indicative of this practice. Movement meditation involves movement in the form of stretching through yoga, walking, gardening and other tranquil forms of movement. The key for this type of meditation is to allow your movement activity to guide you and allow your mind to wonder. If you take a walk every day without listening to a podcast or music, and have a set path that allows your movements to go on autopilot and your brain to explore, you might basically have a meditation practice in place without even knowing it.

Mantra Meditation

With Buddhist and Hindu origins, mantra meditation is the form of meditation that is most typically depicted in popular culture. It’s a form that includes chanting of a mantra (which is sometimes a sound like “OM”) while meditating. For those who struggle to silence their minds and focus mainly on the breath, mantra meditation may help. It gives your brain a repetition to focus on and an action to do during your meditation sessions.

Transcendental Meditation

Similar to mantra meditation, transcendental meditation involves the repetition of sanskrit words. Unlike many of the previous forms of meditation, transcendental meditation is a bit more regimented and specific. If you choose to practice this form of meditation, your mantra is assigned to you based on different factors like birth year and gender. It is typically practiced for 20 mins, two times per day.

Meditation and Sleep

There is plenty of research connecting meditation to improved sleep, especially mindfulness meditation. That form of meditating is popular, simple, can be done at home and can even be practiced when you’re in bed and trying to doze off to sleep. It offers a great approach to taming those unruly thoughts that can keep us up at night. Research suggests that while there is some proof in favor of mindfulness meditation technique as a sleep aid, it’s not fully conclusive and is not an appropriate intervention for someone with severe anxiety—at least not on its own.

This excerpt from the NCCIH website explains some of the research: “In an NCCIH-funded study, 54 adults with chronic insomnia learned mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a form of MBSR specially adapted to deal with insomnia (mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia, or MBTI), or a self-monitoring program. Both meditation-based programs aided sleep, with MBTI providing a significantly greater reduction in insomnia severity compared with MBSR.”

But this isn’t the only research out there. In a study conducted in 2015, two groups of elderly individuals with moderate sleep disturbances were administered two different types of intervention: a standardized mindfulness awareness practices intervention and a sleep hygiene education intervention. When compared with those provided with sleep hygiene education, there was much greater improvement among the mindfulness awareness group.

Finally, this more recent study from 2018 basically concludes that “mindfulness meditation may be effective in treating some aspects of sleep disturbance. Further research is warranted.”

That said, there’s research out there to suggest there are positive health benefits of meditation that can also aid in improving sleep in addition to general wellbeing. For example, transcendental meditation was found to reduce blood pressure (though the NCCIH reports that it’s not clear if this type is specifically superior to other forms of meditation—it seems meditation in general can help to lower blood pressure). Meditation may increase melatonin (the sleep hormone), increase serotonin, reduce heart rate and activate the part of the brain that controls sleep. Studies have also found that meditation is useful for improving mental healthwhich is often linked with sleep disturbances. It can even increase the amount of gray matter we have in our brains, which can result in more feelings of happiness.

Though remember: while the research reflects a number of proven health benefits, the impact of meditation on mental, physical and sleep health likely varies from person to person.

Tips, Resources + More

The great thing about meditation is that you don’t have to take a class or even go anywhere to do it. It’s typically a low to no cost activity you can do at home—it requires little effort or commitment to try. And there are numerous resources available to help you get started including playlists, apps for your phone, podcasts and articles linked in the read more section. Use the following tools and resources to give it a try. Sample a few different types, try them at different times of day—you never know what might work for you!

Playlists/Videos
Apps
  • Headspace (offers a free trial) - Headspace seems to have been around for a really long time. When we think of apps for meditation, this is the first that comes to mind. But it’s not the only one.
  • Calm - Calm is another and while there are more still, these two showed up the most across lists of meditation apps
  • Simple Habit - Simple Habit is one more option that offers a wide range of different types of guided meditation selections you can pick from.
  • You can check out more apps through top rated lists curated by Oprah Magazine and Very Well Mind
Podcasts
  • Very Well Mind published this list of meditation podcasts
  • Here’s another from Urban List
  • Tara Brach, a meditation and mindfulness practitioner, has a podcast and series of talks where she blends psychotherapy with her mindfulness practice

Even if you aren’t ready to invest money into your meditation practice, most of the companies that sell services to support meditation experiences also publish rich content to support the practice that can be accessed for free.

Happy meditating!

Read more here, here, here, here and here


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