The bedding industry is slowly making its way back to normal and producers are hopeful about the January Las Vegas show
Since we all spend so much time attending, talking about and analyzing markets, it’s fitting to bring this challenging Covid-19 year to an end with a look back at the Fall High Point Market, Oct. 16-22, the only market that ran on its normal schedule in 2021. But, alas, it wasn’t a normal market.
I spent seven days in October at the market in High Point, North Carolina. (I live in High Point, it’s easy for me to get to the market, and what else would I want to do when the big show is running?) So, I’ll share seven observations.
1. There is a bedding comeback underway, but it’s a modest one.Yes, there were five more bedding exhibitors at the October market than at the June market (which organizers rescheduled from April), but two of those, Mlily USA and Shifman Mattresses, returned after skipping a few shows. One of the newcomers, Resident, shared a showroom and a second, Palmetto Pedic, was in a sister company’s showroom. The third newcomer, GhostBed, took its own space. That’s not a huge new investment in the market by the bedding industry.
2. Market traffic continues to be off.We still haven’t seen a “normal” market since these Covid-19 times began, and we won’t for a good while to come. Business travel is picking up, but remains depressed.
3. Price increases aren’t hurting retail sales — at the moment.Despite a wave of price increases by suppliers and producers, bedding manufacturers don’t think consumers are turning away from sleep products. Those increases, while significant, are almost impossible to discern at retail as the full range of bedding price points still is offered, although the products presented at those price points may have shifted in the past year. Retail remains solid overall.
4. Supply chain problems won’t be resolved quickly.
There is no easy fix for complex supply chain shortages and bottlenecks. One bedding manufacturer told me the industry’s supply chain won’t be back to normal until 2023.
5. Markets continue to draw complaints, but provide opportunities.Once again, I heard grumbling about slow traffic in bedding showrooms. As I pulled out my notebook for a market interview, one manufacturer had a request: “Don’t ask about business.” Ouch! But it’s also true that markets always offer opportunities. Another bedding producer told me if he signed just two new retail prospects, his High Point commitment would be a success. That reinforces the point that the quality of buyers can be more important than the quantity of buyers.
6. Optimism about the Winter Las Vegas Market remains high.The Winter Las Vegas Market is a leading indicator of bedding business each year, and the industry is anticipating the upcoming show Jan. 23-27 as a key step back toward normal. Covid-19 still will be with us, unfortunately, but manufacturers’ hopes are high that retailers will be ready to take on new lines and make aggressive plans for good business in 2022. I’m expecting a robust bedding market.
7. I always feel better about the industry when I spend time visiting with my industry friends.Markets always are productive for me. A lightly attended market, like the fall market, gives me more time for in-depth conversations with bedding exhibitors, and I had a series of great conversations and meals with bedding executives. Despite the challenges this year, the industry remains resilient, refusing to surrender to doubts or despair. One reason for that is the powerful sense of community that bonds the bedding industry. Yes, we are all getting through this together.
As we wrap up this year, my first as editor at large for BedTimes and its sister magazine, Sleep Savvy, I’m thankful I’ve found a strong new home for my bedding work. Thanks to my colleagues at the International Sleep Products Association for giving me the new opportunities I have to share bedding reports in print, online and in videos.
I wish you happy, restful holidays. And I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in January.