BSC Study: Consumers More Willing to Shop, Buy in-Person in Q2

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A new consumer study conducted by the Better Sleep Council reveals that consumers are showing signs of returning to some pre-pandemic attitudes and shopping behaviors.

The latest study in the BSC’s ongoing research initiative, “Inside the Mind of Today’s Mattress Shopper,” reflects consumer sentiment in the second quarter of 2021. Previous BSC tracker surveys looked at consumer attitudes in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of this year.

Consumers now say they are more willing to shop and buy in-person, although they also say they are still more comfortable shopping online.

That is the case for mattress purchasing behavior trends, the Q2 survey confirms. While slightly more than half (53%) of the mattress purchasers in the second quarter bought online, in-store mattress purchases accounted for 46% of the total, the survey found.

That seven-point gap is the narrowest it has been since the BSC quarterly tracker surveys began in the fourth quarter of last year. In the fourth quarter, the gap was 21 percentage points, with online mattress purchases running at 60% and in-store mattress purchases running at 39%. In the first quarter of this year the gap was 17 percentage points.

“A lot has changed since the BSC launched its “Inside the Mind of Today’s Mattress Shopper” tracking study back in 2020,” says Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the International Sleep Products Association. “As Covid-19 concerns and restrictions continue to relax, the Q2 2021 study found that people are showing signs of returning to some pre-pandemic attitudes and behaviors. At the same time, other lockdown behaviors appear to be sticking around for now.”

Interest in buying trusted brands, buying brands that align with the shopper’s values, and shopping locally have all made a significant comeback for bedroom product consumers, Rogers says. And consumers are also more willing to try new brands and new retailers than they were earlier this year, she adds.

The latest survey found that consumers’ lockdown obsession with optimizing the function and the comfort of their homes has leveled off. “This may be due to the fact that consumers are spending less time at home as people return to in-person shopping, school, work, and other activities,” Rogers says.

The easing of Covid concerns and restrictions and the return to some pre-pandemic activities may have resulted in people starting to sleep better, the BSC said. In the first quarter, 45% of people said they were not sleeping well. That percentage was down to 40% in the second quarter, when more people described their sleep as good (39%) than in the first quarter, when the good sleep percentage was 33%.

But, BSC officials noted, there is still a large minority of people (30%) who describe their sleep as merely “OK.” So it’s not surprising that good sleep remains consumers’ No. 1 priority, although for the first time since the tracking studies began, consumers said their relationships with family and friends were just as important as a good night’s sleep, BSC officials say.

And more people say they are focused on improving their overall sleep environment in the second quarter, expanding a trend seen earlier.

The survey also found that although people say they are less anxious or concerned about their families’ health and well-being than they were earlier this year, health remains their top priority.

The Q2 tracker survey found that consumer confidence in travel and going to public places like restaurants remains low but has gone up since the first quarter. And it found that consumers are placing significantly less importance on making their home useful and comfortable than they did in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Once again the survey captured consumers addressing mattress issues in their own words. “I need a new mattress so I’m not tossing and turning all night because I can’t get comfortable,” one consumer said. Added another: “After I got a new bedroom, mattress, bedding, etc., I sleep so much better at night. I wake up feeling great. My pain has even gone down.”

The survey found that bedroom products were the No. 1 home purchases in the second quarter, and were also No. 1 on consumers’ plans to purchase. Electronics were No. 2 among home purchases in the second quarter, with storage furniture and organizers No. 3 on that last. Mattresses were No. 8 among home purchases in the second quarter, the same rank they held in the first quarter.

Online purchases of bedroom products and sleep accessories rebounded in the second quarter, garnering a 53% market share, compared to a 48% share in the first quarter.

The survey also found that furniture and outdoor power equipment purchases in the second quarter were up significantly compared to the fourth quarter of last year. Plans to purchase electronics were down significantly in the second quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

Consumers said in the second quarter that they were significantly more interested in shopping for new brands for bedroom products and sleep accessories than they were in the first quarter, but were significantly less interested in shopping for new mattress brands, compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

They also said they were purchasing new bedroom products and sleep accessories brands at a more significant level in the second quarter than in the first quarter.