Sleep Retailer eNews | July 11, 2019

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Bed, Bath & Beyond: A Recap Of The Retailer's Woes

Rearview shot of a young woman looking at products in

Bed, Bath and Beyond (BB&B) has been receiving regular attention in the press lately, and not for the best reasons. So we decided to dig into what has been happening with BB&B, exploring what's next for the home products retailer—and what other retailers might learn from its challenges.

With the BB&B’s annual meeting around the corner on July 25th, news updates and stock predictions have multiplied this month. But the company’s woes began way back in 2017 and continued to escalate through the fall of 2018—and the headlines about the business continue to be bleak. It all started with an extreme earnings miss, which was attributed to competition from Amazon—but it doesn’t seem to be so simple.

Long known for its lenient coupon policies, the company also offers laid-back return policies. And while the stores are typically neat and tidy, there might simply be too much going on.

Last spring, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut its rating on Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) to a BBB- level, the very lowest that S&P considers investment grade. Warning that the company’s bonds could be downgraded to junk if "the company cannot stabilize operating performance in the face of continued intense competition from online retailers."

Fast forward to this spring, activist investors—individual or groups of investors that buy up shares of public company or try to snag board seats to effect change in the company—have been all over the retailer, which had attempted to update its board to get back on track. But a board update was not looking like enough. Activist investors advocated for the company to streamline its product offerings and strengthen the in-store experience to drive more traffic.

Around this same time, the retailer announced that, as part of a turnaround plan, it would close 40 stores. Additionally the company used experimental “lab” locations to try new strategies—those stores outperformed regular locations by 2.2% in sales.

According to former BB&B CEO Steven Temares, the lab stores had "a greater emphasis on home decor, food and beverage, and health and beauty care.” By shaking up the store layouts, these locations aimed to give shoppers better access to merchandise.

In May 2019, Temares stepped down as CEO making way for Mary Winston, an experienced public company executive and board member to take on the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer. At the urging of the activist investors, which bought a modest share in the company and now occupy board seats, the company’s founders Warren Eisenberg and Len Feinstein have also departed.

So what’s next?

The company’s annual meeting is set for July 25th, the proxy statement and annual report is available here. Equipped with new leadership and a shift in strategy, there’s still a chance the retailer could make a comeback. But the general consensus is that it has a long road ahead of it—and it wasn’t just the coupons that were to blame for the decline.

The first step in the four step turnaround plan is a comprehensive brand review. According to this report from Bloomberg, “the company’s CEO Mary Winston also said the company would shore up its flagging sales, cut costs and change its organizational structure.”

While the company has already made efforts to revamp its brick-and-mortar stores and create a meatier online presence to be more competitive with Amazon, it’s still behind.

Unfortunately its same-store sales fell 6.6% in the quarter that ended June 1, a larger decline than the predicted 5.6%, according to Consensus Metrix.

For retailers looking to learn from BB&B, here are a few pitfalls to avoid and ways to keep your store relevant:

  • Steer clear of unprofitable promotional activities: Whether it be excessive coupons or sales cycles that devalue your inventory, promotions can send mixed messages to consumers—even if they sometimes do drive traffic.
  • Have a digital presence: In today’s world you have to be online but as a brick-and-mortar retailer, it shouldn’t just be for kicks. Your digital presence should help support what you do in stores and complement it, making shopping with you more convenient for your customers. 
  • Streamline your inventory and store layout: Bed, Bath and Beyond could be an overwhelming place to shop—and, as such, part of its brand evaluation will focus on cleaning up offerings and store layouts. Instead of trying to stock everything and cover all your bases, a better strategy may be to corner a niche. Pick several categories and nail them with premium products shoppers can’t find elsewhere.
  • This article includes some additional insightful lessons to be learned from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

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


The Top 7 Mattress Issues Plus-Size Sleepers Face

Titan by Brooklyn Bedding 2

Brought To You By Brooklyn Bedding

According to a recent Bloomberg article, which cited Centers for Disease Control data on body metrics, the average American is heavier now than at the start of the 21st Century…and edging ever closer to being obese. Despite the statistics—and the sheer number of sleepers who consider themselves to be plus-size—larger size customers have great difficulty finding the right mattress.

Finding the best mattress can be a challenge for many plus-size sleepers, especially as the trend towards one-size-fits-all models have become more popular in the market. Traditionally, larger-size consumers have been told to simply opt for firmer models—but that does not necessarily address many of the unique issues and pain points they experience with traditional beds.

When it comes to providing the best mattress solution for plus-size customers, there are a few things to consider. Here are the top seven issues these consumers reportedly experience.

More Middle Sag In The Mattress

Sag in the middle of any mattress is a common sign that the sleep surface is past its prime. The center of the mattress will naturally begin to dip where a sleeper’s body weight is most concentrated. The heavier the body weight, the quicker this aging progression occurs. Faster than normal deterioration in a mattress can often be linked to poor layer quality and low-density foams.

Solution: A more durable mattress design, whether through multiple layers of high-quality foams, a high-density base foam and/or industrial strength encased coils.   

More Softening Of The Entire Sleep Surface

Mattresses that are constructed with lower quality materials will break down more quickly over time. This gradual corrosion has not only a negative effect on the alignment of the spine, hips and neck, but also impacts the overall quality of your sleep.

Solution: Comfort layers that are made from high quality, responsive foams that ensure superior support and longevity.

Decreased Edge Support

Edge support is an industry term that describes the amount of resistance around the perimeter of a mattress. A higher support level delivers a sturdier encasement with a stronger edge, while a lower support level will cause the border of the mattress to sag and fall. This issue becomes more noticeable throughout time, and is exaggerated by a heavier body weight.

Solution: An edge-to-edge support system that combines durable foams and/or high-gauge industrial coils.

Uneven Distribution Of Support Across The Surface

Traditional mattresses are designed to have extra firmness in zoned areas or just around the perimeter for edge support. This is problematic for someone who doesn’t fit the intended body composition for a particular mattress design: most general market mattresses lack the necessary pressure point relief or support for essential joints that plus-size sleepers need.

Solution: A sleep surface that evenly distributes pressure and support across the entire mattress.

Decreased Comfort And Support Over Time

As stated earlier, there is a natural progression of aging that occurs with all mattresses over time—the speed of that deterioration process depends mostly on the quality of mattress materials, frequency of use, and the weight of the sleeper. Telling customers to rotate the mattress to prolong its life merely circumvents the real issues in quality construction and the unique challenges faced by plus-size customers.

Solution: Foams that have been tested for strength and durability, including tear, tension and elongation strength over time.

More Frequent Night Sweats

Plus-size or not, a common nighttime issue involves overheating. Certain types of memory foam or latex can exacerbate the issue by trapping body heat within the mattress. Other factors that influence your body temperature while you sleep include the fabric of your sheets, the number of blankets on your bed and ambient temperature settings. That said, your body mass is one of the most critical factors in determining how hot you sleep—typically, the higher your body mass index, the more heat you produce.

Solution: A mattress designed to promote greater airflow and minimize heat capture, through open cell technology, individually encased coils, phase change molecule technology and cooling gel materials.

Increased Motion Transfer Between Sleep Partners

Motion transfer occurs when one sleep partner moves, and the other person can feel that movement, regardless of proximity. Motion transfer is one of the main causes of sleep disturbance—the heavier you are, the more obvious the problem becomes for you and your partner. 

Solution: Individually wrapped encased coils to isolate motion transfer and high-density foam layers to minimize any potential “bounce” effects that can transmit motion.

Brooklyn Bedding took these issues to heart when it set out to develop a new mattress that would better accommodate customers of size. The Titan by Brooklyn Bedding was engineered to provide plus-size consumers with the personalized attention they need when it comes to shopping for a mattress. The company first focused on offering substantial support, delivering extra lift and durability through a two-inch layer of TitanFlex foam. This exclusive foam material adjusts to movement more quickly than traditional memory foam while also providing contouring comfort. The core of the mattress is made with up to 1,024 industrial strength, individually pocketed TitanCaliber springs to deliver targeted pressure point relief and decrease motion transfer. A thicker-than-standard two-inch layer of high density foam is added to the base to enhance the durability of the mattress and reinforce the springs as they compress. To maintain a cooler sleep environment, the Titan also features TitaniumGel and CopperGel infusions and a one-inch top layer of quilted gel memory foam.

Addressing the demands of a niche market can be challenging. As Brooklyn Bedding’s owner and CEO John Merwin is quick to point out, the plus-size market—like the mattress industry—continues to evolve: “Customers of size are impacted daily, by the engineering and design choices of manufacturers and retailers alike. Because we own the factory, we get to own the solution.”

Visit brooklynbedding.com and find the original story here.


The Relationship Between Sound And Sleep

Sleeping with headphones

When we talk about the connection between sound and sleep, more often than not we’re talking about the negative impact. While it’s true that loud city hustle and bustle, noisy neighbors and even a snoring partner can be major impediments to sleep — there are some sounds that can actually be beneficial for rest. Not only can some soothing sounds help you fall asleep, but certain ones can even help you get deeper more quality shut-eye.

For some people, noise can be a major impediment for their sleep health—whether by preventing you from falling asleep or rousing you in the middle of the night. In some cases, a noisy environment may not be enough to fully wake you up but can still impede sleep quality and prevent you from moving into deeper REM sleep.

But not all nighttime sounds are the same. Whether you’re looking to drown out disruptive noises or trying to quiet an overactive mind, there are a number of ways to harness music and audio sounds to improve your sleep hygiene.

Relaxing Music & Lullabies

Listening to relaxing music is one of the most popular nighttime habits. More than simply creating a more soothing bedtime experience, music has been scientifically proven to have a direct impact on brain function. Studies show that listening to certain kinds of music can help slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and potentially even trigger your muscles to relax.

It’s why parents of newborns often sing to their babies to help coax them back to sleep. According to a study conducted by a doctoral student from the Université de Montréal, lullabies are an effective way to encourage sleep - in part because music can help regulate and stimulate certain emotions by triggering specific neural connections.

It has the same effect on adults as well. Different kinds of music can promote different reactions in people (think of an athlete listening to their favorite pump-up song before a race). Slow, relaxing music has been shown to quiet the nervous system, reduce stress and anxiety and promote the release of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin. Because of these soothing effects, studies have shown that “relaxing classical music is an effective intervention in reducing sleeping problems.”

But is classical music the only type of sound therapy that will help you sleep? Not necessarily. Research suggests that the best kind of music to listen to before bed is one that has about 60 beats per minute, as this can trigger your brain to slow your heart rate down to that more relaxed rhythm. Any type of music that matches that beat—preferably one that has no defined melody and minimal volume changes—will work.

And while there are plenty of studies that show a connection between music and improved sleep, new research has pointed to other ways to generate those same effects. "Distracting your mind from whatever you would normally be thinking about and focusing on something specific and benign to relaxing (as one often does in meditation) can help set the stage for sleep," explained Professor Sean Drummond, director of the sleep and circadian rhythms theme at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health within Monash University. "Nature sounds are used as 'white noise' machines and can help people block out the world and relax. [But] I do not know of any data evaluating whether they are any better or worse than any other kind of sound.”

Bed Time Stories

Another hold-over from childhood, the classic bedtime story is having a revival among sleep-deprived adults. Studies have shown that listening to a certain kind of audio story can similarly serve as a distraction for struggling sleepers. The key is finding the right one: the story should be long and quiet, full of sensory descriptions and devoid of much plot or narrative intrigue. These boring tales work by giving your brain just enough to focus on that it is distracted from the day-to-day worries that can wreak havoc on sleep—but not enough that it gets reenergized by following an exciting story. 

Casper recently did a round up of some of the best podcasts for sleep. The list includes a wide variety of different audio options: everything from bedtime stories like Sleep With Me to ambient sounds like the Deep Energy Podcast to the more traditional Classical Music Discoveries.

Other Sleep-Promoting Sound Therapies To Try

White Noise: By combining a variety of sound waves across a wide frequency range, white noise works by masking other more jarring or inconsistent noise during the night. White noise machines can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

Pink Noise: Similar to white noise, pink noise combines a wide range of frequencies—but does so in a way that grants each octave equal power. This creates more evenly distributed sound waves, which sound more natural to the human ear. Though the research is still in the early stages, scientists have found that pink noise may significantly increase periods of deep slow wave sleep—which can have a positive impact on memory retention.

Binaural Beats: Like with pink noise, binaural beats utilize a process called entrainment - through which brainwave patterns are altered by exposure to certain sound wave frequencies. This kind of sound therapy requires headphones: the user hears sounds at slightly different frequencies in either ear. Science has shown that exposure to this type of variance in sound waves will prompt the brain to process and absorb a lower-frequency tone. That, in turn, slows down brainwave activity in a way that may help  lower anxiety, fall asleep faster and achieve more quality rest.

ASMR: A newly discovered phenomenon, ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response.” This sensory reaction can include an intensely pleasurable and relaxing tingling sensation in response to specific sounds or images, most commonly whispering, tapping or hand movements. While not everyone experiences ASMR, those that do have found it to be beneficial in treating insomnia and other sleep issues. According to a 2018 study among people who have ASMR, users experienced notable reductions in psychological and physical signs of stress after watching an ASMR video—including heart rate reduction. These calming effects can contribute to a better night sleep. 

Bone Conduction Sound Technology: This one has less to do with the qualities of the audio itself, and more to do with how it is communicated to the brain. When we hear any type of external noise, we are most often hearing it through “air conduction”—meaning the sound waves travel through the air and enter our outer ear. With “bone conduction,” the sound is transferred to your brain through vibrations within your skull and inner ear tissues. A good example of this technology being used for sleep purposes is from Dreampad Sleep. Studies have shown that this tech-savvy pillow can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve, which in turn helps regulate stress, minimize anxiety and promote relaxation. 

Even though science has proven that sound can have a direct impact on your mood and sleep, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. People have different reactions to different types of audio, based on their history and specific brain alchemy. As such, researchers suggest giving the various options a test run for a couple of days to see which one is most effective for you.

Read more here, here, here and here.


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