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Reflecting On This Year’s Top Bedding Retailers
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.
Case Study: Neiman Marcus' New ‘Art Of Sleep’ Collection
What retailers can learn from this well-curated selection of luxury sleep products.
Framed as a magazine editorial, Art of Sleep by Neiman Marcus really feels like an art piece and not just a place to buy products. The recently launched web-exclusive shop features luxury mattresses and assorted sleep products, along with a step-by-step guide to how to get a good night’s sleep that makes the relevance and value proposition of each product incredibly clear. A pleasure to peruse, there’s much to learn from this high-end marketing and ecommerce approach—we’ve highlighted some aspects of it that we think will most resonate with shoppers.
It Tells A Story
Instead of simply offering up another interface for buying items consumers may or may not need, Neiman is presenting each sleep product as a piece to a larger and more holistic narrative—a process by which consumers can build a sleep routine that will lead to healthy rest and ultimately, wellness. By emphasizing how and why each piece of the collection fits into the whole and contributes to a good night’s sleep, Neiman makes its hard to resist adding tall the items in the collection to the shopping cart. It wouldn’t be a complete story without all the narrative threads, would it?
It Feels Luxurious And Special
The visual appeal—an elevated editorial spread that looks like it was ripped straight out of Vogue instead of say, Cosmo—contributes to the overall luxury vibe that Neiman wants viewers to take away from this ‘spread.’ Showcasing expensive products in such a way that makes them feel more luxurious, special and expensive not only helps justify what each item costs, but also indicates that Neiman really knows its audience and knows how to visually communicate the opulence of the line. Site visitors will leave with the impression that purchasing from this collection will greatly enhance their lives and help make their bedrooms and nightly routines feel significantly richer.
It’s Clean And Uncluttered
Visitors to Art of Sleep will not feel overwhelmed or stressed. Instead, they might feel suddenly soothed before they’ve even purchased a thing. This carefully organized web store offers a clean aesthetic (again mimicking a high-style sort of fashion magazine) that allows the product information to shine and the high-res images of each product to take center stage. There’s a good bit of white space on the ‘editorial’ page, while the actual store front where visitors can purchase is fairly standard but doesn’t feel cluttered. For shoppers, the way the products are marketed and arranged may spell out a piece of the value proposition too. Implicit in this feeling is the idea that will drive consumers to buy: dedicating time and money to the task of organizing a sleep routine could very well lead to a more organized and less anxiety-filled life.
It Offers A Highly Curated Collection
By hand selecting and emphasizing that process of hand selection, Neiman is using the power of its own brand to endorse the products it’s selling. Ostensibly, brand loyalists will trust Neiman’s choices in each category—and simply following the recommendations will save them the trouble of researching what's best on the market. Neiman’s buyers have already done that for its customers. Art of Sleep serves as an edited version of your potential trial and error attempts at developing a curated sleep routine. So, what this ultra premium sleep shop might cost its shoppers in dollars it will save them in time.
From a consumer perspective, this collection makes sleep exciting and the products feel like justifiable indulgences. While most brick-and-mortar retailers may not have the bandwidth to redesign a full web page, curating a weekly or monthly collection on a particular theme or aspect of the sleep routine might work well for your store newsletter. An email like this could help introduce subscribed shoppers to any new product categories you’re adding to your inventory. As a rule of thumb, clean and uncluttered is always a solid approach and making the value proposition clear is also a standard key.
What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Apnea
We’ve heard a lot about sleep apnea in recent years. As early as 2014, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine had noted that the rising prevalence of sleep apnea was posing a public health threat to the United States—citing at least 25 million adults who were suffering from the disorder. As awareness continues to grow, it’s important for people to really understand and be able to identify the signs and symptoms. While a CPAP machine can be an actual lifesaver for someone suffering from the disorder, it will have little to no effect on someone who is struggling with sleep for myriad of other reasons. By understanding the ins and outs of sleep apnea, you will be better equipped to find correct solution for your unique sleep troubles.
So what is it really?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three primary types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder. It happens when the throat muscles relax during the night, narrowing or closing your airway as you breathe in. This causes you to stop breathing entirely or simply take in less air. As your brain recognizes this inability to breathe, it wakes you up very briefly so that you can reopen your airway. As this process occurs, you’re likely to gasp or even choke—but because the awakening is so brief, you will usually have no memory of it in the morning. But because this can happen anywhere from five to more than 30 times an hour, it is nevertheless preventing you from achieving the necessary cycles of REM sleep that you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
Central sleep apnea is a less common variation on the disorder, in which your brain is simply not sending the proper signals to your breathing muscles during the night—which means that you are periodically making no effort to breathe. This results in a similar rousing from sleep, often with shortness of breath.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea and is the least prevalent type of the disorder.
What causes it?
There are a number of physical factors that can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Excess weight, thicker neck circumference and a narrowed airway (either due to throat width or enlarged tonsils) can all contribute to obstructing your breathing. Smoking can also increase the risk, as the habit increases the inflammation and fluid retention in your airway—while use of alcohol or sedatives can worsen the effect by relaxing the muscles of your throat. Consistent nasal congestion can also be a primary culprit.
The causes of this central sleep apnea are less external than with the obstructive type. Heart disorders, stroke and the use of narcotic pain medications can all increase your risk. Unfortunately, this means that lifestyle changes will have little effect on your ability to breath.
It’s important to note that older men have historically been marked with a higher risk for both types of sleep apnea variations—but that isn’t a hard and fast rule. In fact, according to Mary Foldvary-Schaefer, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, post-menopausal women are just as likely to be affected by the disorder as men.
How can I be sure that’s what I have?
Sleep apnea can be difficult to self-diagnose, especially if you do not commonly sleep in the same bed or room as another person who may hear you. That is because the clearest signs of the disorder are loud snoring, gasping for air and episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep.
There are some other symptoms that may be easier to pinpoint on your own, including: waking up with a dry mouth or a morning headache, difficulty staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness and difficulty paying attention while awake. For some sleep apnea sufferers, the effects may be less obvious and may be accidentally misdiagnosed as depression—as sleep deprivation can sometimes mimic those symptoms.
New research has also shown that resistant hypertension may be a sign that you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. A recent international study revealed that more than 80% of patients suffering from resistant hypertension also had this form of sleep apnea—and more than 25% of them had a severe case of it.
It’s important to remember: even if you know you’re a big-time snorer, there’s no need to immediately jump to the conclusion that you have sleep apnea. While it’s true that almost everyone with the disorder does snore, that doesn’t mean that everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
The best way to know for sure whether or not you have sleep apnea is to talk with your doctor about it. A specialist at a sleep disorder center will be able to give you the most accurate diagnosis through a nocturnal polysomonography test. Using sensors to monitor your heart, lung and brain activity, along with breathing patterns, movements and blood oxygen levels, this test will gather key data to determine whether or not you are actually ceasing to breath during the night. There are also variations on this test that can be done at home through portable monitoring devices.
What do I do about it?
For some people, sleep apnea has become synonymous with scary looking breathing masks. These machines, called continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines, work to promote airflow during sleep—and can be an effective treatment for sleep therapy. But that’s not the only solution. If you and your doctor decide that a CPAP mask is the best solution, you’ll be happy to know that today’s iterations are quieter and less obtrusive than ever before.
For some people with obstructive sleep apnea, lifestyle changes can make all the difference: whether that means losing weight or avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bed.
And depending on what’s causing the obstruction, there are a wide range of non-mask products that can still help minimize the impact of the disorder. An adjustable bed base can help alleviate nasal congestion—so could a new set of allergen-free sheets and pillows. A new body pillow may help you train yourself to sleep on your side rather than your back, which has been shown to help improve breathing.
While the reality of having sleep apnea may seem extremely frustrating, finding the correct solution to it could be the key to finally getting the sleep you need to live your best life.
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