This is more than just a bedtime story.
Immersed in a work-from-home revolution, Americans are working from their beds, watching movies in the sack, spending more time at home and, consequently, deciding to upgrade their sleep setup.
The upshot is that after years of turmoil caused by bankruptcies, store closures and intense competition, the mattress industry is suddenly flourishing during a pandemic that has reoriented people’s budgets.
“It is a great time to be in the mattress business,” said Philip Krim, CEO of mattress brand Casper.
In addition to mattresses, related products such as adjustable bases and accessories like back-supporting pillows are hot sellers.
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Adjustable bases, which raise and lower part of the mattress, enable people to sit upright while working on a laptop or watching movies on a device. Electronically operated, they replace traditional box springs and work with most mattresses up to 15 inches thick.
Work from home setup
They are appealing to Americans who are working and staying at home because “you can watch TV, you can game, you can use a computer, you can read a book,” said Melanie Huet, chief marketing officer of mattress company Serta Simmons.
Sure, you might not be able to do a video call while sitting on your adjustable base bed. But who's going to know you're working from bed the rest of the day?
Lee Cox saw the appeal of adjustable bases immediately, especially since he's spending more time at home these days.
Cox, a Canton, Georgia, restaurant manager, bought a new Tempur-Pedic mattress and adjustable base this summer after injuring his back in a car accident. His new adjustable base works with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, enabling easy controls while his new mattress monitors his sleep quality and provides a digital report on his shuteye.
“I’ve been loving it ever since,” he said. “For reading in bed and that kind of thing, it’s nice. It has a TV mode that has the right angle. Not having to prop yourself up, it definitely works nice.”
Across the board, mattress companies are enjoying “very strong recent demand … throughout the industry,” Raymond James analyst Bobby Griffin, who covers retailers, said in a research note.
The bedding industry is currently enjoying a year-over-year sales increase of more than 30%, estimates Jerry Epperson, a mattress industry veteran and managing director of investment banking and corporate advisory firm Mann, Armistead & Epperson, which is based in Richmond, Virginia.
To be sure, working from your bed may not be ideal from a health-and-wellness perspective, since experts say it's best to preserve the bedroom for sleeping whenever possible. But mattress companies aren’t about to complain that people are spending more time in the sack.
“While our sleep experts typically recommend reserving bed for sleeping and relaxing only, we understand that people are working and living where they feel most comfortable right now,” said Julie Elepano, a spokesperson for mattress seller Sleep Number, in an email.
Covid-19 spending shifts
Underpinning the trend: Americans who might’ve otherwise taken a trip, gone to a sporting event or attended a musical, are shifting their spending to the place they’re spending the most time.
“You’re seeing people who are staying put in their homes and now not spending as much money on travel,” Krim said. “The home broadly is getting a lot of that benefit.”
The shift is benefiting physical retailers and online sellers alike, analysts said. Though they temporarily closed their doors in the beginning of the pandemic due to government restrictions, physical retailers have reopened with new safety protocols, such as using disposable sheets to allow customers to safely lie on a mattress in the store without worrying about disinfecting the surface.
Other factors are likely also boosting the mattress business, according to analysts and industry leaders, including:
• City dwellers moving to new homes in the suburbs.
“We’re seeing a lot of people move out of urban centers, so as they acquire homes they purchase mattresses for their new homes,” said Huet of Serta Simmons.
• Springtime stimulus checks and extra unemployment insurance.
This boost might wear off soon, especially because Congress has not extended the temporary $600 increase in unemployment benefits.
“You’ve had higher unemployment, but that reality has probably not set in, given the government support,” Raymond James analyst Griffin said in an interview. “And if that government support goes away, we’re probably in a place where things that are big-ticket items probably don’t do as well.”
• New innovation.
The industry is benefiting from new innovation, such as high-tech adjustable bases, and interest in ancillary products it sells, such as luxury pillows.
Casper CEO Krim said the company’s weighted blanket, a therapeutic product intended to relax the nervous system, “has been a very popular seller in this environment.”
Mattress maker Purple’s lineup of high-end seat cushions has “just been on fire,” posting sales increases in the “hundreds of percent,” Purple CEO Joe Megibow said. “Nearly every aspect of our business is up.”
Mattress factories run full blast
For mattress manufacturers, the sales boom is translating into a furious effort to keep pace in the factory.
“Factories are running full out,” said Epperson, the mattress industry veteran, adding that one plant he's spoken with is paying workers triple time to work on Sundays. “We’re getting calls from mattress manufacturers to please find them additional” production capacity
Casper’s Krim said “we continue to be a bit supply constrained” because of industry conditions.
It’s a surprising turn of events for the mattress industry for two reasons.
First, the sector has been reeling from years of upheaval, including the bankruptcy of No. 1 retailer Mattress Firm and the emergence of bed-in-a-box sellers like Casper that have upended the status quo. Hundreds of stores have closed in recent years.
Secondly, mattress companies usually experience sales declines during recessions because people can often delay purchasing bedding products.
But this is a different type of recession, to say the least.
While mattress industry sales fell sharply in March and April as spending dropped at the start of the the pandemic, the bounce-back has been swift, said Gregory Fang, an S&P Global Ratings analyst who tracks the sector.
“There’s been quite a dramatic rebound,” he said.
But mattress companies, hesitant to scare off customers, have been reluctant to raise prices despite the increased demand, Epperson said.
Prices range widely depending on size, quality and technology. They range from less than $100 for private-label twin mattresses on Wayfair to $931 for Casper's queen-size Original Mattress, $2,199 for a full-size Purple Hybrid Premier mattress, $3,699 for the king-size Tempur-ProAdapt and $5,099 for the California-king-size Sleep Number 360 i10 Smart Bed.
“It’s been a real challenge for some of them to recognize good times after several years of not-so-good times,” he added. “It’s hard to believe.”
To be sure, the good times might not last forever, experts warn.
“If there’s a vaccine at some point in 2021, what happens to purchasing behavior then? Our opinion is that to some degree there could be some moderation in sales,” Fang said.
So despite its current success, this is no time for the industry to rest on its laurels.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Work from home: Mattresses, pillow sales boom during COVID-19