For the first time, the same number of people are choosing to buy their new bed online as in-store - this is one of the key findings from the latest Consumer Research Report from the National Bed Federation.

The research, carried out on a sample of 501 people who purchased a bed or mattress between February and August 2017, showed half of purchases were made in-store and half made online. This compares to 2015 when in-store versus online sales were almost 60%-40% respectively.

Simons Williams, marketing manager at the NBF, says: “Since we started these bi-annual surveys at the beginning of 2015, there has been a clear trend towards more online shopping and e-commerce.

“These latest findings are the first time there has been parity between instore and online sales, demonstrating consumers are more comfortable with internet shopping for beds. This development is also indicated in the increased importance of reviews in making purchasing decisions.”

The research shows the over 65s were most likely to purchase in-store (65.4%) and least likely (30.8%) to purchase online. By contrast, the 25-34 and 55-64 year-old groups were the most likely to purchase online at 55% and 56% respectively.

23% of purchases were made at the big national bed specialists, slightly down from previous report. Local independent bed stores ranked at 16.5%, down slightly from the previous 18%, whereas online retailers such as Argos, Amazon, Ebay and Very accounted for 18.6% of purchases, up from the previous 14.3%.

Regionally, customers in the South East were the least likely to purchase in-store (34.8%) compared to the Northern Irish with 85.7% of purchases made in-store and the Scottish 65.1%.

“The regional variations are interesting and pose many questions. Perhaps, those in the South East are time poor and keen to avoid congestion and parking problems when shopping whereas, in other areas, consumers prefer to enjoy more traditional shopping habits,” says Simon.

The NBF produces the research to give members insight into their market and provide extra data to inform decisions about production, product development, routes to market and promotion.

Other key points from the NBF Consumer Research 6th Report include:

  • The average price paid for the new bed or mattress was £476.28 compared to £505.77 in the previous report
  • Those in Yorkshire spent the lowest, averaging just £372.70 which is 21.75% lower than the national average
  • The average replacement cycle was 7.62 years compared to 7.44 years in the previous report. 65.4% of respondents replaced their mattress in under 10 years with a surprising 30.9% doing so in under 5 years
  • Old product worn out (35.3%) was the main reason for replacement, an increase from 30.2% previously, with improved comfort at 31.9%, down from the previous 33.5%
  • The most important factors when making the purchasing decision, in order, were: comfort (74%), price (63.5%), style/design (31.7%), availability (25.7%), reviews (23.2%)
  • The standard double is still the most popular (43.7%) with 23.6% opting for a king size, down from the previous 29%
  • More people are buying mattresses alone, rather than with bedsteads or divan sets (55.7%)