Bed manufacturers more pessimistic over 2024 prospects

Bed manufacturers are significantly more pessimistic about their prospects in the coming months than they were last summer.

Just 11% of companies said they were optimistic (down from 27% in July 2023) and 46% described their outlook as pessimistic (up from 18%), according to the National Bed Federation’s latest State of Trade survey.

This comes despite consumers indicating they are willing to increase what they spend on a bed or mattress if they can be sure it won’t end up in landfill.

Just 18% of manufacturers (and 20% of suppliers) reported demand was better than expected in the second half of 2023; while 42% of manufacturers (and 30% of suppliers) said that it was worse.

‘While demand in the latter part of 2023 was marginally better than the first half – not least because autumn is usually the highest performing time of the year for sales – it remains subdued, leaving both manufacturers and suppliers disappointed that there is still no sign of improvement,’ says Tristine Hargreaves, NBF executive director.

With reduced demand, lead times have receded as an issue – they were better than expected for 32% of manufacturers and 20% of suppliers and the vast majority expect no changes to their current lead times in the coming months.

Almost half of manufacturers (48%) say they are facing higher energy costs and just 30% say they have been able to increase profit margins, either through higher price, cutting costs or a combination.

Reduction in headcount, redundancies and short time continued in the second half of 2023 but at a slower rate than in the first half. The slight improvement in second-half sales led to fewer manufacturers than anticipated cutting back – 27% vs 40%. Some 24% increased their headcount. During the first half of 2024, 27% anticipate taking on more staff while 16% anticipate cuts.

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