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Almost exactly 6 years ago, in December 2015, the experts at the Robert H. Smith School of Business within the University of Maryland predicted that the mattress industry was about to explode. They saw the mergers of the top mattress manufacturers, the newcomers with vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, and the advent of a “mattress in a box,” and predicted that the mattress industry was one that bore watching.

At the time, the mattress industry was generating around $14 billion in sales annually. The researchers claimed that mattress sales, particularly online sales, would continue to grow. These predictions were borne out in a thriving mattress market from the time of publication through 2019, but not quite in the way that was anticipated.

When the article was first published, online mattress retail startups weren’t taking much of the market. In fact, they observed that many of these startups offered just one mattress, sometimes in just one size. The mattresses were often foam so that they could be shipped as a “mattress in a box,” and weren’t of high quality. The researchers really didn’t expect online sales to take off the way they did.

Instead, those plucky startups took the mattress industry by storm, and as of the last collected data in 2019, there were over 175 online mattress retailers. Although the research team postured that people would aways want to try out a mattress before buying, and therefore the online mattress companies could not compete effectively, the results show that online mattress stores are actually preferred by today’s consumers.

Even though some online mattress companies were already offering free trial periods as of the 2015 study, less than 40% of consumers bought their mattress online in 2019. By contrast, Statista reports that 62% of consumers are now willing to buy a mattress online. The mattress industry in general enjoyed a growth rate of just under 5 percent annually between the time of this study through just before the start of the pandemic, and new forecasts predict that this growth rate will return and hold steady in the future.

Another important trend noted by the 2015 brain trust was that the technology of mattresses would continue to improve while prices came down. While you can still get simple foam or innerspring mattresses, there is no doubt that mattress technology has grown by leaps and bounds.

Today you can get mattresses with cooling coils or other hybrid luxury models, and the prices are actually fairly affordable. For example, a quality mattress on 1StopBedrooms with the newest tech in hybrid mattresses can run you around $1500, which breaks down to about $150 per year for a high quality mattress that will last at least 10 years.  

Of course, the pandemic had an effect on almost every industry, and mattress sales in 2020 added up to less than $13 billion in annual sales. However, this downward trend is not expected to continue. It is important to keep in mind that the financial difficulties that most households have faced as a result of the crisis have prevented many “necessary” purchases, and mattresses are just one example.

The decrease in sales has more to do with the public’s inability to afford mattress replacement rather than people buying cheaply made mattresses. As such, as the economy improves we should see more large purchases such as mattresses. In fact, experts now anticipate that the mattress industry will continue to grow at around the same rate indefinitely in 2022 and beyond.


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