There are a few things we’ve come to expect from the fall High Point Market. First, remnants of hurricane season inevitably cause some travel complications (this year, Hurricane Michael swept through North Carolina in the days leading up to the show, knocking out power in the region). And second, the bedding hallways will be sparsely populated, but manufacturers will still be satisfied by the conversations and planned meetings they did have—noting that they were valuable enough to make the whole show worth it.
This year, we were surprised by the bustle of the Market Square area. Food trucks and live music gave the market a fun, upbeat vibe—and proved once again that the fall show is still a big draw for designers and furniture buyers.
For the mattress makers in attendance, much of the attention was focused on the winter market. As such, the fall market has proven to be a great opportunity to slow down and discuss the industry more generally. What new challenges are manufacturers facing? Where is the sleep category headed? What can retailers expect in the months to come?
Here are the top trends we saw at the Fall High Point Market:
The Looming Impact Of Tariffs
There was one big topic on everyone’s mind this market and that was tariffs. We spoke with a number of manufacturers, both large and small, about the potential challenges and opportunities these new taxes could pose for bedding retail.
To give you quick refresher: Back in March, the US government announced plans to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum - then soon followed up with a slate of additional tariffs that would specifically target Chinese goods. Coupled with previously implemented duties on Canadian lumber, these new tariffs could have a major effect on the mattress supply chain.
In theory, tariffs are designed to support domestic companies by making foreign products more expensive than their American-made and sourced counterparts. But, in practice, they can actually increase costs for both manufacturers and consumers as many companies look to protect their margins and offset price hikes.
There is also the risk of other countries turning the tides with retaliatory efforts of their own. In fact, the Canadian government recently introduced 25% tariffs on American steel imports and Beijing also has plans to introduce billions of dollars in tariffs on American goods.
A number of industries have already spoken out against these trade decisions. In a written statement, the National Retail Federation said that these tariffs will punish American companies, saddling them with increased costs and forcing them to find new suppliers, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
The potential effects of these tariffs have many bedding manufacturers worried. In addition to figuring out how to weather the expected price hikes, the uncertainty surrounding the final lists of tariffs poses logistical troubles for companies trying to source materials for their products.
All in all, the big question on everyone’s mind is how these tariffs will impact mattress pricing as we move into Q1. And it seems the jury’s still out.
Refreshed Collections With Innovative Styling Updates
While summer saw high-end, apparel inspired styling, fall market saw refreshed classic collections. Whether an update to the ticking or the mattress hardware, we saw a number of long-standing, signature collections debut new looks and innovative upgrades at the fall market. Growing attention-to-detail, enhanced mattress quality and new investment in popular collections seems to indicate that many manufacturers are recognizing which products are working for them and staying the course. Rather than starting fresh, the following brands are taking well-loved, successful lines and making strategic adjustments to ensure the products continue to offer relevant features and benefits to the current market.
With a focus on natural fibers and an enhanced cooling story, Kingsdown unveiled a retooled Vintage Collection at the fall market. In an effort to meet consumer demand for a luxurious sleep experience, the brand decided it was time to expand the classic line’s offerings with the use of new materials and elevated styling. All six models in the line-up utilize Joma wool and gel-infused latex in the tufted quilt, while five of the six include a layer of Joma wool cushioning in the upholstery. In addition, four models feature horsehair, three include alpaca fleece, and all have cotton. On top of the materials updates, the brand also turned its attention to styling details by wrapping the mattress in a silky white cover that features a woven paisley pattern in a contrasting deep gray. Bordered in a block stitch for added eye appeal, the mattresses also tout tape-edges with a larger, tailored flange design for an opulent finish. With a starting retail price of $2,999, the collection offers an incredible value in the mid-luxury category.
Shifman was also all about its Vintage Collection at the fall High Point Market. Seeking a sleeker, modern appeal, the collection donned new lavish woven covers with fine tailoring details to replace the former striped aesthetic. Though the brand’s longest-standing collection is receiving numerous updates, it will also retain the components that have led to its success: hand-tufting, two-sided mattresses, meticulous construction using natural materials and eight-way, hand-tied box springs. With all the strength and sturdiness of a woven fabric, the new and luxurious covers deliver a lush surface. Showcasing complementary borders and a higher profile, the mattresses updates all work together to visually appeal to a contemporary audience, while still maintaining an elegant classic look.
Driven by the growing popularity of adjustable bases, Aireloom’s redesign of its classic Karpen Side-Stitch collection is largely an update to the engineering of the bed to accommodate power bases. However, the refresh isn’t lacking a few styling upgrades as well. In addition to becoming adjustable base friendly, the three-year-old line which is inspired by Aireloom’s founder and sleep products pioneer King Karpen, is now dressed in a luxurious white cover with gray geometric lines and is finished with a flannel gray border. Retailing at $8,999, the collection epitomizes the premium sleep experience.
Reimagining The Retail Experience—Both In-Store & Online
While the conversation around brick-and-mortar and online retail has been ongoing for years now, it continues to be a major point of discussion throughout the industry. Bedding manufacturers are still looking for new ways to attract and engage with consumers as both their shopping habits and the retail landscape changes. With new delivery mechanisms, purchasing options and display technologies, these companies are looking ahead to the future and creating more dynamic shopping experiences no matter where the customer is coming from.
Already looking ahead to 2019, Protect-A-Bed was showing a sneak peek of an entirely new in-store experience at the High Point Market. Slated to make its official debut early next year, the company’s strategic new point-of-sale programs were designed to engage with consumers on a more meaningful level. Protect-A-bed is focused on integrating digital features and design thinking into traditional sleep retail, combining eye-catching displays with cutting-edge customization, augmented reality apps and interactive product selectors. Further enhancing its efforts with new consumer awareness campaigns and industry-leading training, the company has developed an effective and comprehensive strategy for boosting short and long-term retail sales.
After making its debut at the summer Las Vegas Market, the new Bloom Hybrid by Brooklyn Bedding was another highlight of the fall market. This eco-friendly mattress is made from sustainably sourced materials combined with targeted pressure point relief to deliver a clean and comfortable sleep environment. Starting with Talalay latex foam support layers, individually encased coils and a quilted cover that features Joma Wool and organic cotton, the Bloom is a clear stand-out at a price point that starts at just $1,199. After seeing significant demand for both its natural materials and affordability, Brooklyn Bedding made the decision to ramp up production and expand the availability of this line to customers nationwide on its website. Like all of Brooklyn Bedding’s mattresses, the Bloom is available with free bed-in-a-box shipping nationwide and comes with a free 120-night comfort trial. More than simply selling its products on the merits of affordability and convenience, Brooklyn Bedding offers targeted features, quality materials and unique selling propositions—without sacrificing the ease of boxed shipping or approachable price points.
Understanding that retailers often cannot sacrifice valuable floor space, the Malouf Modern Marquee Display is made with a vertical design that fits neatly over King and Queen size mattresses. The displays were designed to showcase the full assortment of Malouf accessories—including sheets, pillows and mattress protectors—while the easily adjustable shelves allow retailers to create their own product hierarchy based on their customer’s needs. Beyond simply saving space on the retail floor, these new displays were designed to drive up attachment rates by highlighting an array of bedding accessories right alongside the mattress options. The sleek visual concept was envisioned by Malouf’s in-house interior design team, who incorporated clean lines and modern colors that work to spotlight the products themselves. By driving customers to more product options at higher price points, the Malouf Modern Marquee Display not only engages in-store consumers in a new way but helps increase attachment rates as well.
BEDGEAR showcased its new M3 Launchpad mattress at the fall market, highlighting its forward-thinking product features and retail assets. Designed to evolve with changing sleep patterns, physical conditions and seasons, the new mattress includes an array of customizable elements. Consumers select their preferred comfort of four support levels. A zippered cover allows the consumer to view the system’s independent suspension unit and swap it for a different comfort level at any point throughout the lifetime of the mattress. This advanced product design is reflected in BEDGEAR’s eye-catching in- store display systems. The M3 comes with a newly designed M3 Sleep Pod interactive experience, a semi-enclosed pod that explains the unique features of the mattress via a built-in video screen that is activated by a motion-sensor when a consumer lays down on the bed. Starting at $1,649 for a Twin XL, the new M3 mattress can be shipped directly to the consumer in a box. By bringing together the convenience of online shopping with an immersive in-store experience, BEDGEAR is once again reimagining how mattresses can be sold.