Sets, Bedspreads Bright Spots in Top of Bed

Jill Rowen, March 10, 2008

A drop in sales for fashion comforters and significantly weaker performance in quilts and duvet covers set back the Top of the Bed category in 2007.

Coupled with cautious consumer spending, most brick-and-mortar retail channels also felt the loss of momentum in the category. In all, retail sales for top-of-bed products slipped 1.4% for 2007, for a total of $3.094 billion, vs. $3.138 billion in 2006.

While some difficult business trends kept gains from materializing, two fashion trends gave the category a needed shot of adrenaline: Bedding sets remain strong, and increasing interest in bedspreads and coverlets are continuing to define top of bed.

A long way from simple matching sheets and comforters, bedding sets today include coordinating accessories like multiple pillows and even matching throws. "They'll be packing a lamp in there soon," joked one industry exec. In all, the category gained steam and ended 2007 up 1.9% to $1.86 billion.

"The consumer is looking for value right now, so value products — those at lower price points — bed in a bags and open stock comforter products are doing well in this softer economy," said Carmen Waite, vp of bedding merchandising, Springs Global US. "Bed in a bags have had a boost as bundled products that include decorative pillows, Euro shams, window, and other coordinating pieces," she explained.

Herb Briggs, president of retail sales and marketing, Dan River, agreed. "Our bed-in-a-bag business is very solid and continues to grow about 5% a year," he noted.

Bedspreads and coverlets saw an increase as well, with that sub-category up 2.8%. New fabrications and prints — and a continuation of the interest in matelassé looks — gave consumers some stylish choices to embrace.

"Bedspreads and coverlets are doing well, there is a resurgence in this area especially as elegant and luxury fabrics and finishes are offered. They offer a pretty alternative to what's been in the market," said Briggs.

In fact, while many retailers court the value shopper, the higher-end consumer seems very much alive and well. "The luxury customer is still out there and is very supportive of brands known for quality and elegance," observed Waite.

"Customers are looking for value-adds and performance, whether it is the silk and silk-blend products of Court of Versailles or the superior softness of our Wamsutta Comfort Soft brands," she said. "Solid color offerings with compelling color stories are doing well, for example Wamsutta 336 pinpoint comforters at Bed Bath and Beyond and the vividly-colored Wamsutta Expressions at Linens 'n Things."

On the down side, quilts — the fashion darlings of a few years ago — have had their day. Replaced by the new-looking range of bedspreads, quilts declined 14.2%, following a 4.4% falloff in the year prior. Duvet cover sales fell 7.5%, following a 5.9% decline in 2006. And comforters were down 1.7%, after a sales decrease of 8.7% in 2006.

Consumers still looking for comforters opted for the sets that included a comforter and made decorating a room easier — and they opted out of duvets that require a bit more work than bedspreads to dress a bed.

Not surprisingly given macroeconomic conditions, the mass channel gained a full 1% in the top of bed category during 2007, while most other chains suffered in the wake of lost consumer confidence and their own internal issues.

Department stores in particular lost ground during the year, but continue to fight on with brand power. JCPenney, for instance, has forged aggressively ahead with its American Living brand to revitalize the home area, and we can expect some impact in top of bed for 2008. Kohl's, meanwhile, extended Simply Vera Vera Wang into the bedding category to make a bold brand statement.

Though still a small percentage of the home textiles retail business, the direct-to-consumer area grew significantly in the category, up 18.2%. Consumers are digital happy, but there may be a caveat. "People are getting slightly more comfortable shopping online, but they still want it backed by brick and mortar. It's click and brick," noted Nancy Golden, vp of marketing and brand management, WestPoint Home."

Top of Bed

Categories 2007 2006 Change % of Total 2007 % of Total 2006
Source: HTT Research
Comforter sets/bedding sets $1,860 $1,825 1.9% 60.1% 58.2%
Comforters $565 $575 -1.7% 18.3% 18.3%
Bedspreads/coverlets $185 $180 2.8% 6.0% 5.7%
Duvet covers $74 $80 -7.5% 2.4% 2.5%
Quilts $410 $478 -14.2% 13.3% 15.2%
Total $3,094 $3,138 -1.4% 100% 100%
Distribution Channels 2007 2006 Change 2007 2006
Home textiles specialty chains $498 $523 -4.8% 16.1% 16.7%
Single-unit home textiles specialty stores $84 $81 3.1% 2.7% 2.6%
Department stores $186 $215 -13.7% 6.0% 6.9%
Mid-price chains $619 $643 -3.8% 20.0% 20.5%
Discount dept. stores $1,207 $1,195 1.0% 39.0% 38.1%
Off-price chains $93 $106 -12.4% 3.0% 3.4%
Variety/closeout $124 $120 3.1% 4.0% 3.8%
Direct-to-consumer $186 $157 18.2% 6.0% 5.0%
Warehouse clubs $68 $67 1.6% 2.2% 2.1%
Other $31 $31 -0.2% 1.0% 1.0%
Total $3,094 $3,138 -1.4% 100.0% 100.0%

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