OPTIMISM REIGNS AS BEDDING PRODUCERS SEE POSITIVE SIGNS

Optimism reigns as bedding producers see positive signs

February 18, 2015

There was a buzz in the hallways of the recent Las Vegas Market, a buzz that could portend a great year for the mattress industry.

One bedding veteran observed that bustling hallways have a way of ramping up the optimism meter, and that’s what happened in Las Vegas. Positive outlooks were as common as new mattress lines.

Going into the Vegas market there was already a feeling in the industry that good days were, finally, at hand for an industry that has been posting low single-digit unit gains. Economic factors are lining up in the industry’s favor, bedding observers said. They cited an improving economy, declining unemployment, a growing housing market and dropping gas prices, among other positives.

On the eve of the Las Vegas Market, a senior bedding executive, noting that lower gas prices are putting more disposable dollars in consumers’ pockets these days, shared this optimistic forecast with me:

“I think we will see an expanding market at all price points in 2015. If there is such a thing as pent-up demand, we should certainly see that break loose with additional disposable income. I also think for those consumers in the market who are looking for better goods, those are now attainable.”

Note the way that executive phrased the pent-up demand point: “If there is such a thing as pent-up demand.…” That’s not a ringing endorsement of the concept, but more disposable dollars should certainly bring more sales opportunities for mattresses.

The strong Vegas market fueled hopes for a robust year for bedding. “There was a buzz at market and an attitude I haven’t seen since before the recession,” one bedding veteran told me.

For its part, Furniture/Today shared some upbeat bedding news at the Las Vegas Market. Our Bedding Buyers’ Guide included our consensus bedding forecast, which calls for 2.8% unit growth this year and 5.4% dollar growth. That’s a more optimistic forecast than the latest forecast from the International Sleep Products Assn., which calls for 2.0% unit growth and 4.5% dollar growth this year.

Also, bedding observers say that growing national advertising budgets this year should create more consumer awareness of bedding. And large bedding producers, bringing more discipline to their product rollouts, will have their new lines on sales floors shortly, giving retailers more time to sell those lines this year.

Those are some of the positives that greet the industry as it welcomes another President’s Day, an early mattress promotional event. Yes, George and Abe supported every American’s right to buy a new mattress, and thus we celebrate them with big mattress sales. Or something like that.

So the signs are positive as the new year picks up steam. Let’s hope for the best.