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Comparing Mattresses: Are 50% Off Discounts Really Bargains?

By Jeff Frank

Are 50% Off Mattress Sales Really Bargains?

Holiday Sales always have huge discounts on mattresses, sometimes even 75% off.

Is that the best time to buy a mattress?


There are always huge Sale discounts offered on mattresses!

Mattress retailers (both online and off) constantly offer brand name mattresses that are “discounted” by 50% or more.

Mattress retailers routinely advertise “list” prices that are double, triple or even quadruple the advertised “Sale prices”.

Unfortunately, huge mattress discounts of 50% off or more are never “real.”

Mattresses discounted by 50% or more are never sold at the full list price.

Online retailers never list those same mattresses at the non-discounted prices.

Retail stores may take the Sale tags off so that the mattresses are available in their showrooms at full list price.

But they are so obviously poor values that very few people actually buy them.

I am qualified as a mattress “expert.”

Once upon a time (long ago) I was the mattress buyer for a major retail furniture chain.

Over a 4-year period, I purchased over $20 million of mattresses.

The mattress industry makes it extremely difficult to compare one mattress with another.

This is true across different brands, and also within a single brand.

Each different mattress model has unique specifications that are never exactly comparable to any other model.

Each brand offers dozens (or hundreds) of different models.

Models offered by an individual retailer are rarely available from their competitors, with the possible exception of the most expensive “national brand” mattresses, which never go on sale.

A couple of years ago, I was looking for a mattress for my home.

I examined the specifications of hundreds of these deeply discounted mattresses.

Then I compared them with hundreds of mattresses selling at similar prices with lower discounts or no price reduction at all.

For this comparison, I selected innerspring mattresses from Serta, Sealy and Simmons from over a dozen different online mattress websites.

There were no identical mattresses sold on two or more websites.

Despite this obstacle, I was able to identify one universal measurement that enabled me to compare mattresses, both across brands and within brands.

I compared the weights of the different mattress models.

[Update – Prices have increased since this article was originally written.

The mattresses I looked at probably sell for $200 more in 2023.]

I looked at approximately 200 different innerspring queen-size mattresses selling for $799 – $999.

Half were advertised at 50% – 80% off the “list price.”

The other half were advertised at full price – no discount at all.

In almost every case, the queen-size mattresses selling in that price range weighed 80 – 100 lbs — regardless of the original “list” price.

Mattresses at the lower end of my price range weighed 80 lbs – 90 lbs.

Mattresses at the top of my price range weighed 90 lbs. – 100 lbs. (with rare exceptions.)

I subsequently examined several mattresses selling in the $1999 – $2999 price range.

As expected, all of these weighed substantially more than the lower priced mattresses.

All of these more expensive mattresses weighed 110 – 130 lbs..

This included models claiming to be 50% – 80% off.

There was absolutely no relationship between the undiscounted “List Price” and the mattresses’ weight.

Mattresses listed as $3999 values and selling for $999 weighed approximately the same as mattresses, selling for $999 with no discount.

Mattresses listed at $9,999 values selling for $2999 weighed approximately the same as mattresses selling for $3999 with no discount.

Mattresses actually selling for $3999 weighed substantially more than the mattresses that sold for $999.

You may have noticed that the mattresses described above that actually sold for $1999 weighed only 10 – 20 lbs. more than the mattresses being sold for  $999.

So, what is the difference between mattresses actually selling for $1000 compared with $2000 mattresses sold by the same brand?

In my opinion, the $1000 price difference breaks down like this:

$250 in quality improvements

$250 in cosmetic improvements

$500 in additional profit.


Mattress weights can only be compared within similar technologies. You cannot compare innerspring mattress weights against foam mattress weights or latex foam against memory foam.

Mattress prices have increased since this article was originally written in 2020. Queen-size mattresses selling for $1000 at that time probably sell for closer to $1200 today. Mattresses that sold for $2000 at the time of writing may sell for $200 – $400 more today.

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