Realism was balanced by a healthy dose of optimism among National Bed Federation (NBF) members asked to predict how they expect business to fare over the summer months.

They were questioned by the NBF to gauge the industry mood in the wake of its near-complete shutdown during the Covid-19 crisis. The snapshot survey into how members expect trade to pan out in the wake of the pandemic?revealed as much hope as grim forecasts for the immediate future.

Asked about sales expectations to the end of September, compared to the same period last year, a surprising 25% of those who responded said they expected higher or significantly higher levels of sales. Around a fifth (21%) thought trade would be about the same, while 54% felt sales would be somewhat or significantly lower than the same period in 2019.

While 43% of respondents expect to make redundancies when the furlough scheme ends or changes, the majority (53%) said they do not plan to lay people off. And of those who do expect to shed staff: a third (33%) said it would amount to less than one in 10 of the workforce; 59% said it would involve less than 20% of staff; and just 8% predicted redundancies in excess of 20% of workers.

Asked about cost implications, members were equally sanguine. More than two thirds (68%) expected their costs to either remain the same or go up by less than +5%. One in 10 (11%) thought costs might actually decrease, while only a fifth (21%) predicted rises of more than +5%.

In terms of how that affects their own prices, nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) said they expected to hold prices at about the same level, 21% thought an increase of less than +5% likely, and just 7% predicted rises of more than +5%.

Says NBF marketing and membership manager Simon Williams: “Given the exceptional circumstances this year, we were possibly encouraged by the level of positivity which our survey suggests.

“While the future is uncertain there seems to be a good level of cautious optimism as the sector starts up again.”

The?survey was completed by 28 member manufacturers, which were questioned about their expectations around sales, costs, selling prices and staffing levels from July to September 2020.