Epperson: Despite election woes, bedding will make gains in 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The presidential election next year will be a challenge for home furnishings retailers, but the bedding industry will make gains in 2020, Jerry Epperson says.

Epperson, a member of the International Sleep Products Assn.’s Statistics Committee, offers his take on 2020’s prospects in a commentary distributed with ISPA’s new bedding forecast.

That forecast calls for U.S. mattress unit growth of 0.5% next year, which would snap what ISPA is predicting to be three years of domestic unit declines. The dollar value of U.S. mattress shipments is expected to grow by 2.0% next year, ISPA says.

Epperson cited positives and negatives that he said will face the industry in 2020.

He said the presidential election will be a distraction for consumers and will drive media costs up for home furnishings retailers.

And although he’s dreading the upcoming election season, Epperson says the bedding industry can count on several positives in 2020 that should usher in a better year of bedding business than the industry expects this year, when domestic mattress units are forecasted to decline by 0.5% and dollars are expected to be up just 1.0%.

“Income gains should continue to be good, household formations are picking up, we seem to be experiencing an increase in births, more existing homes are being listed, which should be great for existing home sales, new home construction seems assured because we have underbuilt the number of homes needed over the last decade, and the stock market and home values make most households feel better off in a financial sense,” Epperson said.

“All appears to be positive from the perspective of the external driving factors for better mattress sales,” he continued. “Because of these factors, we expect a 0.5% gain in domestic mattress unit sales with a 2% increase in dollars in 2020. We expect inflation in mattress pricing primarily from higher materials and labor costs.”

Epperson noted that the ISPA forecast does not include results from the trade negotiations with China nor a resolution to the antidumping petition on Chinese-made mattresses.

Looking at conditions in 2020, Epperson admitted that it is a year “I dread without question” and one that will be dominated by the presidential election.

“Sadly,” he wrote, “the U.S. presidential election is likely to be so disturbing and in such bad taste, it will be covered by the media in every country. Honestly, another concern is that all media costs — TV, radio, Internet, etc. — will be inflated by the demand for advertising by the political parties. It happens every four years and challenges all of our retailers to find affordable ways to attract consumers to our sites or stores. Those same consumers will be, of course, either enthused or depressed by the election, both of which are a distraction.”

Epperson also noted that imports are “a growing factor” in mattress markets around the world “and will likely continue to grow in the future even if the antidumping petition is successful because the production will likely migrate to other nations who see the U.S. as an attractive market.”