Uncharted Waters


Bedding retailers discuss how their stores and policies have changed in the wake of COVID-19

Mary Best Sleep Savvy magazine editor in chief
Mary Best
Editor in Chief

In the first week of August, in what felt like the 8 millionth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, I went rogue, threw caution to the sultry summer wind and took my dog, Guilford, for a drive purely for a change of scenery. (Wild times, right?) We drove — well, I drove while Guilford luxuriated in the back seat like the royal canine he is — away from the city to the farmland of Piedmont North Carolina where I grew up. It was rejuvenating to get out of my house, roll down the windows, revisit old stomping grounds and enjoy the pastoral beauty of the expansive fields that blanketed the rolling landscape. 

As I slowed at an intersection, I saw him for the first time — a days-old foal, posed by the fence that surrounds the 30-or-so-acre horse farm. With a shiny white-and-brown coat and standing in the protective shadow of his mom, he was eager to explore his new environment, even while standing unsteadily on his wobbly, thin legs.

It was a tranquil scene, one that reminded me how thankful I am to have a home, a job I love, good health (knock on wood), and family and friends who give me strength when my legs feel wobbly, too. That sweet foal — new to the world and unsure of himself — reminded me that life continues even during the strangest of times, and now, more than ever, is the time for perseverance. 

Similar lessons ring true in one of this issue’s feature stories. In “Retailers Ready for Business,” Julie A. Palm interviews a half dozen or so bedding retailers to explore how they are weathering the COVID-19 tempest, how the virus is reshaping the retail landscape and the ways in which retailers are adapting to meet consumer needs while following federal, state, and local guidance.

A few top-line themes from the question-and-answer article include:

  • Customers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Website traffic has increased. 
  • The average ticket price of a mattress generally has declined.
  • Store capacity has been limited. Some stores are offering shopping by appointment.
  • Stores are observing safety protocols strictly with social distancing, employees and customers wearing masks, and deep, regular sanitizing. 
  • A variety of delivery options are available to keep employees and customers safe.

Determined and resilient, these retailers, like countless others, are creating ways to keep their customers engaged, their stores safe, and their businesses alive and thriving.

How is your store doing? Do the same observations apply to your business? If so, why? If not, why not? Email me at mbest@sleepproducts.org. As trying as these times are, if a young foal can find his way in an unfamiliar pasture, I hope we continue to maneuver our way through unmapped and unprecedented times. 

Stay safe, be well and have hope.