7 Reasons Why Mattresses Are So Expensive

Redditor “NittyGrittyTruth” has spoke the truth in 7 brief points:

  1. They last for around a decade. The per-day use price is very low.
  2. It’s one of the highest profit margins in the furniture industry.
  3. It’s impossible to comparison shop. The manufacturer’s can, and often do, “label” the exact same bed with a different cover and name for two stores in the same market area.
  4. The used market is practically non-existent. It’s like selling your used underwear. Nobody wants your filth. So everyone buys new every time.
  5. There are only a handful of suppliers for the basic ingredients for a mattress. Leggett & Platt, for example, supply almost all the metal involved for the approximately 1,000 U.S. mattress companies. Latex is made by two major companies.
  6. Consumers buy when they need, not when they want. This makes a mattress set more of a last minute purchase, than say a car.
  7. There are limited sources online to understand the build of a mattress. Therefore consumers have no idea what they are sleeping on. Most people could not imagine a visual of what it would look like if they sliced their bed open.

Let’s dive deeper into each.

7 Reasons For High Mattress Prices

Per-day use price is low

They last for around a decade. The per-day use price is very low.

Let’s chart down the average cost per day for mattresses in different price classes used for different lengths of time:

Mattress Price 5 Years
(1825 Days)
10 Years
(3650 Days)
15 Years
(5475 Days)
$500 $0.27 per day $0.14 per day $0.09 per day
$1000 $0.55 per day $0.27 per day $0.18 per day
$1500 $0.82 per day $0.41 per day $0.27 per day

Terribly cheap mattresses (think: $300 or less) that are made from poor quality material and blend can prematurely sag within a year.  If the mattress lasts the year, that means they pay roughly $0.82 each day (=$300/365 days).

So let’s assume you do purchase a decent mattress. In exchange for sleeping comfortably on a $1,000 mattress for one-third of your day and life, you will have spent $0.18 to $0.55 each day for 5 to 15 years.

If at the worst case, your $1,000 mattress explodes and die a terrible death at the 5-year mark, you would still have spent less on a mattress each day ($0.55) than if you were to purchase a mattress made from poor quality material ($0.82).

The numbers in the table does not take into account whether you sleep with a partner, either. If you do, per-person cost per day is significantly less.

How’s that for per-day use price?

Tidbit: On average, we recommend replacing your mattress anywhere between 5 to 10 years for optimal sleep. If you aren’t sure which mattress is best for you, having a lengthy trial period like a 100-night trial, can make decisions easier for you.

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One of the highest profit margins in the furniture industry

It’s one of the highest profit margins in the furniture industry.

Grocery stores can have an average profit margin of 2.5%, according to a Forbes article. On the other hand, mattresses can have profit margins in the 40% to 50% range, according to Consumer Reports. So what’s the deal? Why the high profits?

We can’t be too sure how the mattress industries and their brand giants have established such profit margins, but we can guess several reasons:

  • They have low overhead, dealing with factory-direct deliveries from the manufacturing plant to consumer homes.
  • Employees are paid commission-based salaries, so if highly incentive employees sell the highest-priced mattress, they earn a big paycheque (and so do the mattress businesses).
  • During recessive periods, consumer behavior is to hold off from spending especially on a mattress. However, when times are booming, spare cash can be spent on mattresses  and other big ticket luxuries. This pent-up demand for mattress means greater markup for bedding companies.
  • Since profit margins are amazing, we see a large number of competition enter the industry. However, mattress brands focus on building their brand to overshadow competitors in advertising campaigns to retain commanding market share.

Difficulty comparison shopping

It’s impossible to comparison shop. The manufacturer’s can, and often do, “label” the exact same bed with a different cover and name for two stores in the same market area.

One of the reasons we recommend shoppers to purchase mattresses online is the transparency of mattress designs, constructions, and material used. We analyze the insides of mattresses to ensure we don’t include “higher-priced duplicates” in our reviews.

By shopping online, consumers gain leverage with the ability to leave reviews on platforms like Amazon that forces businesses to be attentive to their customer service and product quality. It might not stop all the bad apples from getting through, but it makes comparison shopping possible through online means, which is what we aim to do at MySleepyFerret.

No second-hand, used mattress market

The used market is practically non-existent. It’s like selling your used underwear. Nobody wants your filth. So everyone buys new every time.

Unlike cars, smart phones, and big-screen TVs, mattresses should not be bought second-handed. Here is a list of “filthy” reasons to never spend on a used mattress:

  • Beds are used for sexual activities. Picture body fluids and accidents. Yuk, HYGIENE!!
  • You can never know how the beds have been used or care for. The worst case scenario? Bed bugs. Maybe include bacteria, mold, and dust mites.
  • It’s impossible to see how much of quality the mattress is. Used cars can be taken to mechanics for examination, but not mattresses. Coils could be busted. Foam could be prematurely sagging.
  • Not being able to assess the quality of the mattress means used beds have shorten lifespan. The big question is how much time is left?
  • Did we mention bed bugs yet? Double exclamation mark!!

We understand money can be tight, and we do our best to find affordable mattresses for our visitors. The worst thing that can happen is getting bed bugs, because then the headache that comes from having to get professional extermination and treating your home will be a disaster.

Handful of major mattress ingredient suppliers

There are only a handful of suppliers for the basic ingredients for a mattress. Leggett & Platt, for example, supply almost all the metal involved for the approximately 1,000 U.S. mattress companies. Latex is made by two major companies.

We dug around and identified a brief list of mattress manufacturers. The following is a short list of bigger giants in the mattress industry:

  • Serta, also owns Simmons
  • Sealy, includes Bassett Bedding, Stearns & Foster, and Tempurpedic
  • Saatva, which owns Loom and Leaf and Zenhaven
  • Select Comfort (airbeds)
  • Corsicana
  • Therapedic
  • Comfort Solutions, include King Koil
  • Englander
  • Restonic
  • Ashley Furniture
  • Symbol
  • Kingsdown
  • E.S. Kluft, includes Aireloom
  • Spring Air
  • Southerland
  • Eclipse (Eastman House)

These might be the big boys in the mattress industry, making allegedly 80%+ of mattresses in the market. There are, however, hundreds of smaller manufacturers that work locally, regionally, and nationally providing components and materials to make mattresses for retail and online businesses to sell.

Here is a short list of some local wholesale manufacturers for mattresses:

  • SleepDutchCraft
  • JamisonBedding
  • SoutherlandSleep
  • RestonicJC (Johnson City Bedding Company)
  • Haaga Mattress
  • Popular Mattres
  • Zen Bedrooms, Inc
  • Comfort Bedding Manufacturing Inc

As for latex suppliers, we found a few across the world that provide latex:

  • Latex International, includes Dunlopillo
  • Latex Green
  • Latexco East, West, and Sleep Comp
  • Arparcio
  • Coco Latex
  • New Zeland Latex Foam (not a spelling error)
  • Radium Foam

We can’t confirm the numbers of the influence that the mattress giant manufacturers have on the market share. However, we can say that many other local, regional, and national wholesale manufacturers are out there making a dent in the market share by providing more transparency and improvements to the components and layers of mattresses.

Mattresses bought when needed, not wanted

Consumers buy when they need, not when they want. This makes a mattress set more of a last minute purchase, than say a car.

We mentioned earlier that mattresses tend to be one of the last things on consumer minds when times are rough. This also includes the behavior of buying mattresses only when it is needed.

Although some shopping considerations occur, when a sleeper begins to be afflicted with aches and pain, the bed must change immediately. Losing sleep, for most people, is not an option.

There have also been a shift and realization by consumers on how much their mattress influences their sleep when kept for many years. In our guide on how long mattresses last, we wrote on average 6 to 8 years. Any longer, and the mattress materials begin softening and breaking down, affecting your quality of sleep. You won’t notice how worse your sleep has gotten until you start waking up with terrible back and neck pain.

Limited number of online sources

There are limited sources online to understand the build of a mattress. Therefore consumers have no idea what they are sleeping on. Most people could not imagine a visual of what it would look like if they sliced their bed open.

This is a fact.

A large part of the lack of transparency also has to do with mattress manufacturers and companies protecting their formulas. Imagine being a manufacturer that spent millions of dollars on research and development to find out the best blend for a universally comfortable sleep, or specifically catering to heavy sleepers or side sleepers. If another company or manufacturer can simply find out this information, they can rip the formula and improve on it slightly, then they can begin mass-producing and marketing their mattress brand as better than your own. This possibility does not incentivize companies to release information on their mattress formulas.

Even at MySleepyFerret, we cannot afford to buy and cut open mattresses to find out what is inside. We intend to the moment we can. Until we can do more, we do our best to analyze what we find online from reputable sources and from consumer reviews, review the integrity and usefulness of data collected, then compile them into useful buyer’s guides for you to make the best buying decision possible.

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