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  • David Perry

Labor Day boost assured, industry enters tough period

David Perry Executive editorDavid Perry Executive editor
Now, with the predictable results in hand, we head bravely into a turbulent future.
     As you may have noticed, there is a presidential election under way this year. Regardless of your preferences in that race, you've probably been struck by the spate of negative ads on the airwaves, the unrelenting attacks, the debates over the facts, the debates over the state of the economy, etc.
     "Ugh!" one bedding insider shuddered the other day, shaking his head in dismay at the unseemly scene.
     And it's only going to get worse in the weeks leading up the election. It's hard to think this is a climate in which good mattress business can be had.
     That's the view of several bedding veterans I've talked with in recent weeks. They believe the steady drumbeat of negative advertising is a negative for mattress consumers. We agree.
     The good news is that we enter this time of gloomy business prospects with plenty of wind in our sails.
     Once again hard-hitting bedding promotions drove business over a key holiday period. We were impressed with several aggressive promotions that we saw over the Labor Day sales period, when we were traveling in Minnesota.
     Slumberland touted a special purchase of Simmons Beautysleep sleep sets at $299 in queen, featured price rollbacks on Sealy Posturepedic and Simmons Beautyrest sleep sets, offered a free boxspring with the purchase of a Sealy Optimum mattress, and advertised savings of up to $200 to $400 on Tempur-Pedic models.
     HOM Furniture, meanwhile, offered free boxsprings with several lines, including Serta Perfect Sleeper beds and iComfort models, and Comfortaire airbeds. The retailer also touted Tempur-Pedic savings of up to $200 to $400.
     And HOM's Gabberts operation offered Tempur-Pedic savings as well as 10% off its Aireloom line, produced by E. S. Kluft & Co.
     I don't expect those retailers, or other savvy bedding merchants, to give up on business prospects in the months to come. But I think big gains will be difficult to achieve over the balance of the year.
     History says the industry now has most of its best sales months behind it, and the official numbers say the industry has performed extremely well thus far this year. The International Sleep Products Assn. says the large producers it surveys are up 16% in dollars and 9.3% in units through July. (Note: There is significant skepticism among bedding insiders about those figures.)
     Still, the industry has certainly achieved some solid gains this year and is well positioned to finish the year with positive growth - regardless of what happens in the politically charged weeks ahead.

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