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  • David Perry

ISPA forecasting sales gains

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - In its latest forecast, the International Sleep Products Assn. says the dollar value of bedding shipments will increase 6.3% in 2013 and 8.5% in 2014. Bedding units are forecast to grow by 2.3% and 4.5%, respectively, in those years.
     This is ISPA's first look at business in 2014 and is a revision of its previous 2013 forecast, which had called for 6.6% dollar growth and 3.4% unit growth next year.
     ISPA's Statistics Committee issues the forecasts, which are based on the results of various econometric models that are reviewed and adjusted by the producers and suppliers on the forecast panel.
     The panel also issued its final forecast for business this year, projecting a 10.5% gain in the dollar value of bedding shipments, and a 6.5% increase in bedding units.
     If that 2012 forecast materializes, the value of mattress shipments will surpass the industry's 2007 dollar value, which has been the historic high.
     In its review of the national outlook, ISPA said that three years into the recovery "the U.S. economy continues to struggle, unable to generate the kind of sustainable growth needed to support enough job gains for rapid recovery in the labor market."
     On the positive side, ISPA noted that "many of the housing market indicators have been encouraging this year. Single-family housing starts have been edging up since mid-2011, with total starts this year hovering around three-quarters of a million units (annual rate) for most of the spring and summer. Although five consecutive quarters of increases is a welcome change, the overall level of single-family construction remains depressed and the current pace of new home construction is unsustainably low."
     In his "Another Perspective" column, distributed with the ISPA forecast, statistics committee member Jerry Epperson says: "Our model and this forecast are reasonable and achievable, but the economy has the ammunition to be much stronger."
     Epperson also addresses the much-discussed figures in ISPA's monthly Bedding Barometer reports. Through August, the sample of 18 producers whose figures make up the monthly reports is up 9.1% in units and 14.8% in dollars, figures that some bedding observers believe are too high.
     Epperson agrees with those observers, saying the numbers are high for the industry as a whole because the sample has more of the branded, mid-to-better priced mattresses and has a larger percentage of the typically higher priced non innerspring units than the industry as a whole. Also, he noted, the sample group does not include "the hundreds of smaller, less geographically diverse, more commodity-like manufacturers of innerspring mattresses."
Adjusting for those factors, Epperson said he believes that the dollar value of bedding shipments for the entire industry would more likely be up 11.5% through August, while the unit figure would more likely be up 7%.
     Epperson also noted that the fourth quarter of 2011 was the strongest single quarter in the economy since the recession began in 2008, which offers a challenge for bedding producers to outperform in this year's fourth quarter.

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