Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Are There So Many Mattress Stores?

Dear Cecil:

How do mattress stores manage to stay in business? They're all over the place, but the average adult buys a mattress once every five to ten years. With high overhead and infrequent purchases, how are they around? (This question was inspired by a friend, Bethany.)

— Not Bethany

Cecil replies:

I see your query, NB, and raise you. To my mind, it’s not just about how these stores manage to stay in business: the question is, moreover, how are there so goddamn many of them — particularly right now? Where I live, in Chicago, entire blocks are all but overrun with the places, which frankly don’t do much for a street’s aesthetics. In June a Texas Monthly article described the worrisome proliferation of mattress stores in Houston, where the venerably groovy Montrose neighborhood has become known as “the Mattrose” on account of all the new sleep shops. An April headline in the Northwest Indiana Times asked, apropos the town of Schererville, “Why the heck are so many mattress stores opening?” So: you and I aren’t the only ones wondering. What gives?

One thing that jars about this state of affairs is that, in the age of Amazon, there’s something very old-economy about mattress stores, beyond their relentlessly cheesy look. No one goes to bookstores to buy books anymore, right? Well, not exactly. A 2014 report by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney found that despite the digital hype, overall a full 90 percent of retail transactions still take place in physical stores. And according to an investor presentation by industry giant Mattress Firm, dedicated mattress stores account for 46 percent of total mattress sales, handily beating out furniture stores (35 percent) and department stores (5 percent) for the largest share of the market.

So mattress delivery by drone is still a ways off. But again, these stores aren’t just surviving, they’re flourishing — that market share has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Why open a mattress store when there’s another just down the street? Turns out the economics make perfect sense:

Running a mattress store doesn’t cost much.

by Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope | Read more:
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