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David Perry

Bidding for bedding at big Nationwide meeting

When I addressed a few hundred retailers at the Nationwide Marketing Group's recent Furniture Summit in Las Vegas, I had a simple message: Carry more bedding. And I had the statistics to back that message up.

Bedding is the only major product category that pays furniture stores a premium. Other major categories actually penalize furniture retailers, according to Furniture/Today's market research.

The research, which comes from our 2012 Furniture Store Performance Report, shows that bedding commands 9% of the selling space on furniture store floors, but delivers 13% of sales. In other words, bedding gives back more than it takes. Product categories like master bedroom and motion upholstery, by contrast, deliver a smaller percentage of sales than the percentage of selling space they command. You could say they deliver less than they take.

This is no knock on those other categories. Master bedroom, which accounts for 15% of selling space and delivers 13% of sales, and motion upholstery, which accounts for 11% of selling space and delivers 9% of sales, are both important categories on most furniture store floors.

But if you have to decide which category deserves more space on furniture store floors, and that is a decision that merchandisers face on a regular basis, bedding is the obvious winner, I told the Nationwide retailers, a group that includes independent furniture retailers, appliance retailers and electronics retailers. (All told, the Nationwide PrimeTime event in Las Vegas drew more than 5,000 attendees. It was a bustling, impressive show.)

I also told the retailers in my session that the best-selling bedding prices at furniture stores are soaring. In 2010, the median best-selling queen bedding price at furniture stores was $699. But last year, with a spate of higher-end bedding models for consumers to choose from, it was $899, according to Furniture/Today research. That is a healthy 28.6% increase.

Another reason for retailers to step up their commitment to bedding this year is its relatively high growth forecast. Furniture/Today's Consensus Bedding Forecast calls for 6.8% wholesale dollar growth this year. By way of contrast, F/T is predicting "only" 2.8% growth in furniture store sales this year, and "only" 4.3% growth in consumer spending for furniture and bedding this year.

We think bedding will be a strong performer this year.
Those are statistics-based reasons why bedding deserves more furniture store support this year. There are also subjective reasons, like the level of excitement the category continues to generate in the marketplace.

It's always good to meet with retailers. Thanks to our friends at Nationwide for giving us the opportunity to share the good news of bedding with several hundred of their members.

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