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David Perry

Bedding loomed large in Vegas as mattress market boomed

February 5, 2014

Wow! That was some bedding market that wrapped up in Las Vegas last week.

Retail traffic was stellar. Major mattress retailers from around the country flooded bedding showrooms, responding enthusiastically to the massive offering of new mattress and sleep accessories lines.

Bedding exhibitors gave the show rave reviews, calling it the best - or one of the best - they've ever seen. In my dozens of calls on bedding showrooms, I only found one bedding company that was disappointed with its traffic. I guess there is one in every crowd.

Bedding loomed extra-large in Las Vegas last week. The parking deck next to the World Market Center campus was festooned with five big bedding banners, touting Serta's iComfort and iSeries lines, the Simmons Beauty rest Black brand, and the Stearns & Foster, Vivon and King Koil brands. Building A was the backdrop for a huge ComforPedic iQ banner, and the top of Building C carried a Serta banner that proclaimed that company's market leadership.

And that was just the start of the branding parade. A ZZZest sign welcomed market goers, and a Sealy Optimum message graced the walk-up ramp that led to the WMC courtyard, where a huge Dormeo globe kept the bedding parade rolling, as did other Dormeo branding in the courtyard.

Other bedding displays and signs also greeted retailers walking through the courtyard. All of that bedding branding reinforced the fact that Las Vegas is the national home of the bedding industry, and that bedding companies understand the importance of branding and promotion.

And it also was a powerful reminder to retailers that they should be thinking about bedding at market - and in the new year. Anything that raises bedding's profile with retailers is a positive for the mattress industry.

One of the questions that I posed to bedding exhibitors last week was: What do all those good feelings in mattress showrooms mean for our industry? Good things, to be sure. But for how long?

One thoughtful mattress maker gave me this perspective: "This market tells us what retailers are thinking. When so many retailers are excited, and those retailers probably know their customers well, that probably means it will be a good year."

Retail business has been poor of late, but the surge of excitement in Las Vegas gives the bedding industry a considerable boost as retailers get ready to begin putting new mattress lines on their floors in the coming weeks. Excited retailers are a plus, particularly if they can translate their excitement to the retail sales associates who are our link to consumers.

But I also heard some cautionary voices in the crowd, telling me that the year is young and that many things can dampen consumer attitudes in the months to come.

Those qualifiers are appropriate, of course. But the excitement that the mattress industry generated in Las Vegas - in banners, in showrooms, with exciting new products and eye-catching retail displays - positions the industry for a robust launch of new mattress and sleep accessories lines this spring.

Hope, it is said, is not a business plan. But optimism is a heady elixir that was flowing freely in bedding showrooms in Las Vegas.