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There So Many Mattress Shops In America. Is It Sustainable Business Wise?

By Jeff Frank

There are good reasons why there are large numbers of mattress shops in America.

But that situation is changing.

  • Online mattress sales have been growing rapidly and may surpass brick and mortar sales within 20 years (or less.)
  • There are signs that some mattress retail chains have overexpanded.

On average, mattresses last 8 – 10 years before replacement.

That may seem to be infrequent. But what you may not be considering is that almost every person in each home needs their own mattress.

Take a family of 4 – two parents and two children. That is three mattresses. Add another mattress (or two) for occasional guests.

  • Additional kids, live-in relatives or renters all need their own mattresses.
  • Compare that with how many refrigerators or washing machines can be found in each household.

From a very simplistic view, it would make sense if there were 4 or more mattress stores for each one that sells refrigerators.

Mattresses also have far higher profit margins for retailers than refrigerators or other major appliances.

Now, let’s look at this from the viewpoint of the retailer:
Stores that sell mattresses generally fall into two major categories:

  • Large retail chains that own or franchise dozens or hundreds of small individual mattress stores.
  • Mattress departments in larger furniture or department stores.

Smaller local chains with several stores in a single metropolitan area used to be common. Most of those have been gobbled up by the national or large regional chains.

Small independent mattress retailers with a single store are almost extinct.
The cost of local advertising is too high for a single small store.

Large numbers of small independent mattress stores, located in low rent strip malls, are relatively inexpensive to staff and operate.

  • High advertising costs are manageable when shared among a large number of small stores.

50 – 100 years ago large department stores were the #1 destination for consumers looking to buy mattresses.

  • That is no longer the case, although a few such as Macy’s and Sears (for now) are still among the biggest bedding sellers.

Over the past few years, online mattress sales have increased dramatically.

  • 10 or 20 years from now, it is very possible that online mattress sales will surpass those made through brick and mortar retail stores.

There are too many mattress retailers in some areas.

Mattress Firm, the largest U.S. mattress retailer filed for bankruptcy in August 2018. The company operated over 3500 retail locations (both owned and franchised.)
One of the reasons cited in the bankruptcy filing was “too many retail outlets and franchises.”

The company was reorganized after the bankruptcy, shutting down several hundred locations.

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