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ISPA 2012 forecast: Modest but welcome gains

Ryan TrainerRyan Trainer
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The International Sleep Products Assn. is predicting modest unit and dollar gains this year as the bedding industry continues to recover from a slump a few years ago. And the group's top full-time executive says ISPA will be working hard to keep the industry moving forward.
     ISPA's latest forecast sees a 1% unit gain for the industry this year and a 4% rise in the wholesale value of bedding shipments. ISPA President Ryan Trainer, now in his 10th year at ISPA and completing his second year as head of the association, says those would be "modest" but welcome gains.
     Trainer said ISPA will be taking several important steps this year to benefit the industry.
     And he expects a robust ISPA Expo, set for March 14-17 in Indianapolis, to provide a boost for the industry.
     "During these tough economic times," Trainer said, "we see the show not only as a vibrant marketplace for doing business, but also as an important place to boost morale and showcase the success of the industry and the valuable role that a good mattress plays in improving the lives of consumers who buy our products."
     ISPA is expecting the industry to face challenges this year from states that would impose unnecessary burdens on manufacturers, Trainer said.
     "To do our part with the industry's recovery, ISPA expects to tackle several state initiatives this year that would require mattress manufacturers to organize and fund mandatory used mattress collection and recycling programs," he said. "We expect Connecticut and possibly Rhode Island and other states to introduce bills like that this year. If enacted, these individual state mandates could have negative implications for the mattress industry."
     Last year ISPA played a key role in helping to defeat such a move in Rhode Island, Trainer said.
     "As we did last year," he said, "we will work with manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to defeat these types of inefficient and potentially costly state programs. We are also working with states on legislation that would prohibit mattress renovators from selling non-compliant products."
     On the federal level, ISPA is "working closely" with its partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Assn. of Manufacturers and its counterparts in other industries "to hold the line for our members on issues such as taxes, health care related costs and international trade and labor," Trainer said.
     ISPA also is planning a number of actions this year to help its members boost their sales.
     "Our Better Sleep Council will be unveiling some very exciting plans this year," Trainer said. "Our main goal is to increase consumers' awareness that a good night's sleep is key to enjoying good health, and that sleeping on a quality mattress is crucial to getting the rest we need."
     He says the industry traditionally sees a boost in business during presidential election years as a result of improved consumer optimism, but doesn't believe the housing, unemployment or personal income areas will improve enough this year to produce a substantial election year bump.
     But he pledges that ISPA will do all it can to position its members for growth.
     Trainer also says retailers can play an important role in helping the industry grow.
     "Consumers in the market for a new mattress want a comfortable bed and a good night's sleep," he said. "I think that retailers who respond to that need and sell the merits of a good night's sleep as it relates to an overall healthier lifestyle will succeed. I am encouraged that some retailers are promoting that message in their marketing and I hope that others will follow their lead."

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