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Bedding: Total category sales — $6.7 billion

Despite the difficulties that have buffeted home textiles companies this year and sluggish retail sales, last year still managed to net some significant gains for manufacturers and retailers of bedding products.

According to The Facts: Bedding, Home Textiles Today's exclusive survey of bedding manufacturers, sales numbers in 2000 went up significantly for some retail channels, while decreasing slightly for others. But the overall result was a $700 million dollar increase in total bedding sales. In 2000, $6.7 billion worth of bedding was rung up around the country, compared to 1999's figure of $6.0 billion.

Not surprisingly, discount stores and specialty chains reaped the biggest benefit, with both channels recording a 2 percent increase in sales. Discount stores climbed to 37 percent, up from 35 percent, or to $2.5 billion from $2.1 billion, while specialty chains increased a healthy $253 million in sales, to $1.3 billion from $1.0 billion.

Department stores, catalogs, Sears and Montgomery Ward, and warehouse clubs all fell — not significantly, but enough to hurt. Sears and Montgomery Ward saw the biggest decrease, at 3 percent, from $420 million to $268 million, while the other two both fell by 1 percent each. The remainder of the retail channels — home improvement centers, online retailing and single-unit home textile specialty stores — all held steady for 2000, at 1 percent each, even though they all recorded larger sales figures from 1999.

The merchandise sector representing the biggest piece of the pie in sales was sheets and pillowcases, with consumers gobbling up 33 percent, or $2.211 billion worth in 2000, a 3 percent increase from 1999. The next largest category was comforters, at 21 percent ($1.407 billion), while bed pillows were a distant third ($737 million).

Quilts and bed-in-the-bag both provided some pleasant surprise for manufacturers, as each went up 2 percent and represented $210 million and $469 million in sales, respectively.

Manufacturers also looked overseas for larger proportions of their goods in 2000. A full 20 percent of bedding products sold by U.S. manufacturers were made by foreign factories and represented $1.3 billion in retail sales. Significantly, that number does not include bedding products sold in the United States by foreign manufacturers, nor does it include retailer-direct programs sourced abroad.

The numbers leave no doubt that international sourcing is the wave of the future, as domestically produced bedding has fallen from 87 percent of total bedding in 1998 to 80 percent in 2000.

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