These are strange days in Mattressville, where down just might be up.
At first glance it appears the bedding industry is in a recession, with one of its star categories — adjustable bed bases — saddled with double-digit declines. But — spoiler alert! — first glances are deceiving.
The latest figures from the Bedding Market Quarterly, published by the International Sleep Products Assn., paint a grim picture of industry performance in 2017. Units were down 8.3%, and the wholesale dollar value of those shipments was off 4.4%. Those figures are from producers who account for a majority of total bedding shipments.
The situation looks even worse in the adjustable bed category, a segment growing in importance as retailers struggle to boost tickets to make up for declining in-store traffic. ISPA says adjustable base units were down 13.5% last year, according to its survey participants, while the dollar value of adjustable bases plummeted 18.6%.
While those figures are just for sales through mattress manufacturers, ISPA believes that channel accounts for the majority of adjustable foundations sold in the U.S.
ISPA finds itself in an odd place with its statistical reports these days. The guest columnists whose insights accompany the ISPA reports invariably point out, in a nice way, that the ISPA figures don’t tell the whole story.
In the latest report, for example, Budd Bugatch, an analyst with Raymond James, notes that the ISPA quarterly reports appear to miss “several bedding growth areas,” including domestic bed-in-a-box players and low-priced Asian imports. He believes, although he admits he can’t prove it, that total bedding consumption was positive last year.
Now positive is quite a bit better than an 8.3% unit decline and a 4.4% dollar decline. It’s also the difference — and this is a huge one — between a category that looks to be mired in a serious sales slump and one that is actually growing.
The situation is similar in the adjustable bed segment. Leading adjustable bed producers tell us their category grew last year, possibly by double digits.
Again, that is a massive difference in a category that ISPA shows with double-digit declines for the year.
ISPA knows that it needs to add boxed beds and additional adjustable base figures to its statistical reports. That need is growing increasingly acute.
ISPA’s quarterly reports simply don’t tell the whole story of how the bedding industry is performing. The whole story is certainly a great deal more positive than the negative story suggested by those poor quarterly figures.
The bedding industry faces a number of challenges these days, but I believe it remains on a solid growth course. It would be nice if ISPA could illustrate that growth in its quarterly reports