Mattress Firm continues its rule as the top traditional mattress seller for yet another year. That is according to Furniture Today’s recent report of the Top 25 conventional bedding retailers. In addition to ranking the biggest winners, this list also noted how these sales numbers have increased (or decreased) over the years. In doing so, it paints an intriguing picture of how the traditional mattress retail industry is changing. We take a closer look at these numbers and ruminate on what they might mean for all types of sleep retailers moving forward.
Let’s start with the big three. As previously noted, Mattress Firm remains firmly at the top of the list. In fact, despite experiencing a 4.1% drop in bedding sales, the retailer still brought in an estimated $2.9 billion in total to secure this title. Coming in at number two was Sleep Number, which locked in a 3.1% sales increase to hit $1.3 billion. And Ashley HomeStores rounded out the top three by posting a 20% increase in sales to hit $836 million.
Even after such a difficult year, it comes as little surprise that Mattress Firm continues to be the reigning traditional mattress seller. It’s simply hard to compete with the sheer size of its enterprise. And while Chapter 11 filing and the closure of more than 200 stores may have sounded alarm bells across the industry, they may have been smart business decisions as the company heads into the future more streamlined than it has been in a long time.
The enduring success of Sleep Number reinforces a number of things we know to be true about this industry. Namely, singularly branded brick-and-mortar retail locations tend to be very effective, as they allow for more concentrated marketing efforts. And that is especially true for one of the most recognizable mattress brands in the country. But beyond that, Sleep Number has also shown plenty of ingenuity in the past few years when it comes to the physical shopping experience. Last year, the company unveiled a new store in Manhattan that was strategically designed to engage with consumers, integrating interactive technology to deliver sleep education and product information in more dynamic ways.
While these sales rankings do accurately reflect today’s bedding retail landscape, it was actually the growth percentages that caught our attention. In addition to ranking each store by total sales, Furniture Today also summarized the data via store category, highlighting which types of traditional retailers were seeing the fastest growth—or most notable losses. This angle is important because, while individual stores will always have their ups and downs for a variety of reasons, the overarching trends often reveal more thoughtful insight into how the wider industry is shifting.
What this list found was that warehouse clubs (like Sam’s Club and Costco) were the fastest growing segment at a 9.9% increase—while furniture stores (like Ashley HomeStore and Raymour & Flanigan) came in second with a 8.6% increase. Conversely, bedding specialist stores actually logged a decrease last year, dropping 2.1%.
So what can we take away from this? As we said, there are a number of different factors that can impact sales at an individual retail chain. Though it would be impossible to come to any conclusive explanations, these numbers do pose intriguing questions and possibilities worth considering.
First, it’s necessary to note that they did not include online mattress retailers in this ranking. Over the years, that part of the industry has skyrocketed to more than $1.7 billion in revenue in 2017—and it’s expected to continue on that upward trajectory for years to come.
The growth of the e-commerce mattress segment has had—and will continue to have—an impact on traditional sales. With mattress-only stores seeing the biggest drop in sales, are these types of stores being the hardest hit by this shift to online? Is it that the customers who would have previously bought at this type of sleep shop heading online instead—or are they opting for one of the other traditional retail spaces instead?
Which leads us to the growth of warehouse clubs and furniture stores. While the two types of stores most likely offer wildly different shopping experiences, they do share some commonalities. The most obvious being that they both offer other types of products other than just mattresses and bedding.
And while this ranking only took into account the sales of mattresses, box springs and adjustable bed bases and excluded sleep accessories—it’s important to consider how having other options available can impact the core mattress sales.
Both warehouse clubs and furniture stores have a wide enough breadth of product that customers are more likely to return on a more regular basis. These recurring visits can help breed loyalty—so when it’s time to buy a mattress, they’re already sold on the shopping experience. In that same vein, convenience may also play a role: furniture stores in particular make it easy for consumers to revamp their entire bedroom from top to bottom—providing them with a quick, one-stop-shopping experience.
And of course, in the case of warehouse clubs, price will always come into play. While the average unit price may keep these stores from ranking in the highest echelons of this listing—they have been able to attract enough additional customers to their bedding options to register such a jump in sales. It is worth contemplating how the online mattress market has impacted this as well. Has the increasing visibility of low-cost online brands effectively shifted consumers expectations on how much a new mattress should cost? And if so, is that actually helping drive traffic to the more price-conscious retailers?
As we head into the final quarter of 2019, now is the time to start taking stock of the wider industry and how it’s changing. Keeping a close eye on how traditional mattress sales are changing can help any bedding retailer—no matter the size or type—better prepare for the future.