Bedding Industry 2024 Insights: Challenges, Opportunities, and Projections

After a tough 2023, industry leaders look ahead to the obstacles they might face and the opportunities they’ll welcome in 2024.


When BedTimes asked bedding industry leaders to sum up 2023, that was the word that popped up most frequently. Some added an exclamation point for emphasis.

Looking back at the year that was, executives reeled off the headwinds that slowed the sleep products and broader home furnishings industries, including high interest rates, a moribund housing market, rising consumer debt and weak consumer confidence.

Challenging indeed!

Ready to close out last year, industry leaders are cautious as 2024 begins. They note obstacles, such as an election cycle that gobbles up ad space and leaves consumers unmoored. There’s also industry uncertainty about what the pending purchase of national retail chain Mattress Firm by bedding major Tempur Sealy International Inc. will mean for other manufacturers and retailers, as well as suppliers. 

But industry leaders also see opportunities for growing their market share and boosting overall sales of sleep products. The key, many say, will be to remind consumers about the role of a quality mattress in a good night’s sleep and to offer products shoppers will be eager to buy.

Read on for more assessments of 2023 and predictions for 2024, in industry executives’
own words.

How would you describe 2023? 

“One word — challenging! We went into 2023 expecting Q1 to be difficult but expected Q2 and on to be flat to slightly up, bringing the full year to flat. That hasn’t been the case.” 

— Laurie Tokarz, president and CEO of Restonic Mattress Corp., a licensing group with headquarters in Oak Lawn, Illinois

“2023 has been very difficult for predicting business conditions. None of our historical strategies helped in forecasting business.” 

— Brent Limer, vice president of sales for Chicago-based A Lava, which supplies components and offers product design, contract sewing and contract manufacturing to the sleep products industry

“Chaotic! So much going on! It felt a bit like trying to watch ‘a three-ring rodeo’ being run in the infield of a NASCAR race.” 

— Don Wright, chair and CEO of Wright Creative Branding & Labels, a provider of labels, top-of-bed, signage, and other marketing and branding materials based in Thomasville, North Carolina

“2023 was not for the weak. Fortunately, Spring Air was well positioned to fight for business, and we focused on making door clicks happen and helping retailers maintain margin with fair values. Our advantage, in addition to 13 domestic factories led by some of the best minds in the business, is that we are privately held. That makes us very strong and allows us to be nimble in a difficult environment. With no debt structure or private equity involved, we had the wherewithal to branch into new sectors like hospitality this year, and that is already bearing fruit and giving us an extra surge as we head into 2024.” 

— Nick Bates, president of Spring Air International, a manufacturer and licensing group based in Woburn, Massachusetts

“Highly evolving.” 

— Tommy Bruno, president of Culp Home Fashions, the mattress fabrics division of Culp Inc., with headquarters in High Point, North Carolina 

“Early 2023: Sluggish. Late 2023: Rebounded, but not completely.” 

— Steve Adams, business manager for Upaco, a division of adhesives supplier Worthen Industries, which has corporate headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire

What trend, economic condition or event had the most impact on your business this year and why? How did your company respond?

“Like all home furnishing sectors, our bedding business was impacted by inflation and the economic rollercoaster. We focused on maintaining constant communication with our customers and responding to their needs in a timely manner, showing empathy.” 

— Mark S. Jones, president and CEO of Hickory Springs Manufacturing, a supplier to the bedding, furniture and other industries based in Hickory, North Carolina

“The decline of the home furnishings market, not only bedding, but the furniture and accessory market, as well. Burnett has invested in technology, added a 170,000-square-foot facility and expanded our presence into other markets.” 

— Tim McRee, vice president of industry supplier William T. Burnett & Co.’s nonwovens division in Statesville, North Carolina

“Inflation and lack of discretionary spending continue to have an impact. We continue to work hard to give consumers the greatest value we can.” 

— Tim Witherell, corporate manufacturing and operations director for The Original Mattress Factory, a Cleveland-based manufacturer and retailer

“Everyone is impacted by consumers’ worries about inflation and wars around the world. Many consumers, who previously may have had disposable dollars to spend, are now focused on everyday household needs, like groceries. Families that traditionally have spent $200 per grocery visit are now spending closer to $300. That’s a huge impact on a lot of wallets, at a time when energy and other costs are up, as well. It’s stopping them from walking into retail stores. While we continue to have success in the higher end of our product lines, we have to change the way we think about consumers at the mid- to lower price points and merchandise those lines effectively to ensure we see success there, as well.” 

— Bates, Spring Air

“I wouldn’t say that any one trend, condition or event impacted our business. It seemed that everything contributed to the general business decline in the mattress industry — a post-pandemic lull, shaky economic confidence and the state of interest rates with their effect on housing starts. There were not many, if any, bright spots for 2023, and going into an election year in 2024 is even more concerning, based on history.” 

— Limer, A Lava 

What do you think was the biggest bedding industry news story of 2023? 

“The Sealy/Mattress Firm deal is … well, a big deal. When you have two well-run, innovative companies who bring talented people and an extensive physical presence into a market, it’s a big deal. I also believe that this will create some new and exciting opportunities and alliances throughout the industry. We will most likely see new products being introduced and new lines being launched across the entire industry. Branding and advertising spending typically goes up in these conditions, which will ultimately increase overall consumer awareness, which is exactly what the industry needs right now. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out. It’s going to be a fun year.” 

— Wright, Wright Creative Branding & Labels

“Announcements throughout the year regarding acquisitions and continuing consolidation within the industry. We track these news stories closely to ensure we are focused on partner selection and executing our strategy to provide real-time solutions, innovation and high-quality products to our customers.” 

— Bruno, Culp

“May 9, 2023, when Tempur Sealy announced their agreement to purchase Mattress Firm. Our industry has not experienced a major manufacturer owning the predominant retailer in our history. There are many unknowns, but if this acquisition is approved by the Federal Trade Commission, there will be ripple effects throughout the industry.” 

— Tokarz, Restonic

“There is more focus on the issues of sustainability and circularity. These discussions within the industry are important, and they are happening between the manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and recyclers. It is an exciting and dynamic time where solving the challenges of a circular mattress are in the forefront.” 

— Adams, Worthen 

 “The overall drop in sales across the home furnishings market as inflation and the housing market struggled.” 

— Witherell, The Original Mattress Factory

“TSI acquiring Mattress Firm. It changes the landscape of retail when one of the strongest manufacturers and one of the strongest retailers become a single force.” 

— Jones, HSM

What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2024? How can that challenge best be addressed? 

“We’ll continue to fight for customers’ discretionary spending. The advertising space will also be a challenge as we have another election year. We will have to continue to show customers our value and why getting a good night’s sleep is so important to their lives.” 

— Witherell, The Original Mattress Factory

“The importance of remaining lean, efficient, yet nimble and flexible in responding to the needs of the market. Taking the recent lessons learned of inventory and labor management and applying them moving forward.” 

— Adams, Worthen

“The many headwinds facing the economy — consumer confidence, interest rates, inflation, consumer debt — all impact disposable income. Unfortunately, bedding purchases can be postponed, which we’ve experienced in 2023. The best way to address this is messaging (and) turning a mattress purchase from a grudge to a desire: ‘We provide a better night’s sleep, which improves your overall well-being.’”

 — Tokarz, Restonic   

“Economic uncertainty (including interest rates), geopolitical unrest and the U.S. presidential election will impact consumer confidence and demand for home furnishings. Our focus is on listening to our customers and bringing forward products that will help drive their business and differentiate them from their competitors. (We’re) innovating not only our products, but also our services and ease of doing business with us.” 

— Jones, HSM

“The biggest challenge facing the industry next year will be the uphill battle to get customers into stores, and we must face it with increased marketing. When companies see sales decline, they too often react by making cuts to marketing budgets, creating a cascade effect that sees sales decrease more rapidly. When sales were high and companies were fat and happy, they slowed marketing down. We are finally returning to a point where holiday sales and promotions actually mean something to sales numbers again, especially those around the likes of Fourth of July, Black Friday and Presidents Day. The industry will see strong marketing plays around those again, and with that, a surge in business.” 

— Bates, Spring Air 

What is the biggest opportunity you see for the bedding industry in 2024? How will your company meet it? 

“We need to sell what we have: American made, quality and sustainability. This will play well with the millennials and boomers, who have a significant and growing amount of disposable income.” 

— McRee, Burnett

“We think the biggest opportunity in the bedding industry will be reengaging a tentative bedding consumer, and we will continue to focus on providing differentiated design and innovation to our customers to help them stand out with their retail customers. Additionally, we will be focused on expanding our product offerings in order to meet all of our customers’ needs at a great value.” 

— Bruno, Culp

“I believe in the strength and fortitude of the American economy. The American consumer loves to feel good about what’s happening around them. A little bit of good news coming out of Washington or on Wall Street goes a long way in improving the consumer outlook. Lower interest rates would be a great start. I also believe that onshoring and nearshoring of the supply chain will create some very good opportunities for the industry. Shorter lead times, reduced inventory commitments, etc., all benefit the industry and, ultimately, the consumer. There is a lot going on in that sector right now.” 

— Wright, Wright Creative Branding & Labels

“I believe connecting a new, supportive mattress to better health in consumers’ minds is our biggest opportunity. At Restonic, we plan on amplifying that message through digital marketing and social media.” 

— Tokarz, Restonic

Sustainability has been a focus of the industry. What sustainability goals or initiatives do you plan to tackle in 2024? 

“Sustainability is a very important topic that is being focused on in everything, not just our industry. A Lava is early in the process of refining our practices. It is hard to identify where you need to go without evaluating where you currently are when it comes to sustainability. Therefore, we have increased our efforts on tracking our waste and evaluating ways to help eliminate or recycle waste. We are putting into practice ways to conserve energy in our offices and manufacturing processes. We are also leaning toward our suppliers of raw materials to provide offerings that are sustainable or help us meet our goals.” 

— Limer, A Lava

“Burnett has been offering sustainable products for decades. With the increased interest in these products, Burnett will be increasing our offerings to include fire barriers, filling and comfort materials. This will allow the bedding manufacturer to differentiate itself from the field and give today’s more responsible and conscious consumer a reason to buy.” 

— McRee, Burnett

“We will continue working with the N.C. (Department of Environmental Quality’s) Environmental Stewardship Initiative advisory team analyzing our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, identifying specific projects to address and publishing our first sustainability report. From a product perspective, we will continue innovating with sustainability in mind, while always focusing on consumer acceptance and value.” 

— Bruno, Culp

“I love this topic. I am a firm believer in the cradle-to-cradle concept regarding sustainability. I’m proud of the efforts that the International Sleep Products Association has made with its recycling initiatives. On our end, we work with our suppliers and our customers to help answer the simple question: How can we do better? That’s our starting point. I also believe that our industry has really started to believe that sustainability is more than a catch phrase, and the supply chain is starting to catch up to that concept. We can make a difference and develop products with the end of life in mind. It’s time.” 

— Wright, Wright Creative Branding & Labels

“Natural, renewable sources of adhesive polymers are a focus of our R&D efforts. Worthen has a long history of providing natural-based products. Worthen’s first natural, latex-based, one-part spray applied foam fabricating adhesive was commercialized back in the 1990s. Internally, Worthen plans to complete the installation of its fourth solar array companywide. This 379-kilowatt array will be installed at Worthen’s facility in Richmond, Virginia, and will generate 80% of the electricity used by the plant.” 

— Adams, Worthen

“Sustainability is a priority for Spring Air as a company and we’re constantly looking for new, different and better ways to improve — whether it’s through our supply chain, waste management, better management of material discards at our facilities or even modifications to the way we deliver product. I’m also on the board of ISPA. One of the big initiatives there is the Mattress Recycling Council, and Spring Air is deeply involved in that effort. All our plants have some kind of recycling program in place, because it has the dual benefit of being good for the environment and business.” 

— Bates, Spring Air   

“Sustainability and circularity are constantly at the forefront of our 80-year-old company. We strive to manufacture innovative products in collaboration with our global partners while maintaining environmental consciousness. This is why we develop equipment that enables recycling, use materials that are more sustainable and find innovative reuse applications for our production scrap.” 

— Jones, HSM

“We look to use superior components, as well as build mattresses to last longer, therefore less are disposed of annually. We’re also looking to use more natural products moving forward. We’ll continue to drive operational efficiencies to help reduce waste in the factories.” 

— Witherell, The Original Mattress Factory

What’s at the top of your to-do list for 2024? 

“Is there any other answer other than ISPA EXPO 2024? A Lava is looking forward to this very important industry event and we have already started the planning process for the show. Although this will be happening near the end of Q1 2024, it will shape the course for the remainder of 2024 and 2025. We are excited to see everyone in March!” 

— Limer, A Lava

“Strengthening our hospitality business is a top priority for me. Restonic is manufactured and/or distributed in over 65 countries globally. Many of our factories have a very mature hospitality business. We have developed an International Hospitality Committee to share best practices and to broaden our reach. With consumers traveling more than ever and looking for a respite, hotels are updating and improving their sleep environments. Restonic is striving to be a go-to brand for hoteliers.” 

— Tokarz, Restonic

“Sell, sell, sell.” 

— McRee, Burnett

“In 2024, Spring Air’s primary efforts will center on the continued expansion of our dealer base, while helping our current retail partners grow their business. It is essential that we continue to be true partners with our retailers, finding new and unique ways to support their marketing and promotional efforts on a consistent and ongoing basis. Helping them bring customers in the door is key to their success, so partnering on the front lines allows us to help increase their sales, which translates into more product leaving our production lines.” 

— Bates, Spring Air

“Developing products for ISPA EXPO (and) spending more time offline.” 

— Wright, Wright Creative Branding & Labels

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