The “New Normal”

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Mary Best square headshot
Mary Best Editor in Chief

The COVID-19 pandemic will remake mattress making for years to come

I am a planner. Every year about this time, I start sketching in next year’s production schedules for both Sleep Savvy and our sister publication BedTimes. A few months from now, I and the magazines’ staff will create the editorial calendars, deciding what the major cover and feature articles will be for every issue in 2021, and I’ll assign the pieces to writers. Then comes budgeting for the coming year — my least favorite task, to be honest. By late September or early October, next year’s infrastructure for both Sleep Savvy and BedTimes will be set. 

At least that is how it has worked in the past. This year, I’m not sure what will happen, as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the entire bedding industry in ways the Great Recession, previous disease outbreaks and even many wars have not.

This issue of Sleep Savvy doesn’t look anything like the issue we originally planned. Just a few weeks before we sent the magazine to the printer, we scrapped two big features and a couple of smaller articles to bring you instead a range of stories that address the challenges retailers now face. Writer Phillip M. Perry gives an overview of the new federal grants and low-interest loans available to retailers, as well as the beefed up sick pay and unemployment insurance programs passed by Congress as emergency measures in the face of the pandemic. In Snooze Briefs, we look at how long the coronavirus can live on various surfaces and what that means in terms of sanitizing your store to keep employees and customers safe. And in Tip Sheet, we lay out changes the pandemic may require you to make in terms of mattress delivery.

I know most retailers like to plan, too. Yet many of your stores have been ordered closed, forcing you to rely solely on e-commerce or even old-fashioned phone sales, while other retailers are operating at reduced hours — and with far fewer customers. This is most certainly not what you had planned for spring and summer 2020.

These are difficult times for everyone. Layoffs are painful for both employee and employer, and although the federal government has passed trillions of dollars in relief, many retailers haven’t gotten the help they need to sustain their businesses. And yet, I see signs of hope because I know mattress retailers (and Sleep Savvy readers in particular!) are an adaptable, resilient bunch. In this issue’s Retail Road Trip, frequent contributor Julie A. Palm revisits several mattress sellers who have survived tough times to see what lessons retailers can take from their experiences.

As we adjust to the “new normal,” Sleep Savvy wants to support you in any way we can. Let us know what types of articles and resources would be helpful to you. You can always reach me at mbest@sleepproducts.org. And don’t forget to subscribe to our twice-monthly e-newsletter Shop Talk by Sleep Savvy for the latest news and best retail practices.

Stay safe and be well.