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Kamloops News

THOMPSON: We aren't buying mattresses the way we used to

August 13, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Mattress retailers - to steal a line from “The Godfather” - are “thinking about going to the mattresses already.”

The sleep industry is big business in Canada…$1 Billion in annual sales…and growing. While retailers have always fought for our dollars…now the combatants are swinging wildly.

You see, we’re not buying mattresses the way we used to. Like so many products that once reached consumers only in brick-and-mortar stores, now on-line sales are driving the marketplace for bedding. Naysayers - those who once said “no one is going online to buy clothes they can’t try on” - were slow learners, and chant a similar mantra…“no one is going to buy mattresses they can’t try first.”

Turns out that younger people - who rely on handheld devices to navigate through life - see online mattress sales as the smart move now…not some time in the future. Mom and dad - and even grandpa and grandma - can’t be far behind. Increasingly, we do a Google search…and then rely on social media reviews to guide our buying decisions for everything.

People - young and old - scoff at the once ritualistic way we bought a mattress…walk in a store full of unmade bedding, plop down on four or five for 30 seconds each…shrug at your bedmate and pull out a credit card.

Not only are our ways of shopping for mattresses changing…so are the ways companies are making them. If you haven’t bought a mattress since the Toronto Blue Jays won a World Series…you’ve got a lot to learn.

Today, companies are making bedding out of safer more comfortable materials. Apparently, sleep isn’t what it used to be. Now, it’s all about better quality sleep…things like your side of the bed firm and your bedmate’s side…softer. Beds can be cooler, too…literally a few degrees cooler than the old days.

And with online sales come faster delivery…months rather than days or weeks trying out the mattresses…and if you don’t like it…no-hassle returns. Traditional stores remain…though they are decreasing in number every month. Still, in the United States, there are more mattress retail stores than McDonald's hamburger joints. By the way, a bout 20 percent of mattresses sold in Canada are imports from the U.S., double from ten years ago.

I’ve never liked shopping for mattresses. It’s like a trip to the proctologist…it’s necessary but it’s somewhere short of fun. But the thing I like least about mattresses…and bedding and sheets and pillow cases…is the issue of cleanliness. I’ve been known to not only change rooms in a hotel…but literally change hotels if I don’t like the looks of the beds.

Believe me, you don’t have to be a clean freak to be scared of bedding. Why? Beds are a virtual Petri dish of bacteria. A study from 2017 by a mattress maker in the United States found that a pillow case used for one week harboured more than 17,000 times the bacteria than a toilet seat…sheets had more than 24,000 times more bacteria than a bathroom doorknob.

Well, if the sheets and pillow cases are that bad…and they get washed at least once a week…how filthy with bacteria is that eight-year-old lumpy mattress? Before you call me a sissy, consider that these aren’t “good” bacteria…we’re talking about bacilli and gram-positive cocci, the latter includes staphylcoccus aureus, which causes skin infections and toxic shock syndrome and streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia, meningitis and sinus infections. I can’t think of better reasons to throw a first-class washable pad on your mattress…new or old…and launder it regularly.

But, you can go one step farther. You can buy a zippered cover made from a silver-imbedded fabric for less than $150 to cover your king mattress…old or new. Silver interrupts bacteria’s ability to form chemical bonds necessary for survival. Just 24 hours after exposure to one of these magic covers the bacteria load decreases by 99.9 percent. The next sound you hear are my fingers on the keys of my iPad clicking away in search of one of these covers!

Today’s newer foam mattresses are cooler and offer a more comfortable night’s sleep…and with less perspiration…less bacteria, as well.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve almost worked myself into a mattress buying mood…not an easy thing…if it’s even a thing. Now, all I have to do is work up the courage to go online and spend $1,500 for something I used to go into a store to buy. On second thought, I probably won’t miss parrying with the mattress store salesperson…who, I believe, is now selling used cars.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

News from © iNFOnews, 2018

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