Why Are Mattresses So Expensive? (Plus 5 Price Hacks)

If you’re shopping for a new mattress then you’ve probably noticed that they’re not cheap.

But why are mattresses so expensive?

Mattresses are expensive when bought from a store because the retailers typically mark up their mattresses by 50% or more to cover costs and make a profit; whilst the addition of high quality materials like organic latex or cooling foams can push the price up even further.

However, there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye – as some retailers may use shady marketing tactics and price anchoring strategies to maximize their profit margins.

And in addition to revealing these ploys below, I’ve also included 5 price hacks that you can use today to potentially get your new mattress at up to 10-50% less than the price that you see in store.

5 Reasons Why Mattresses Are Expensive.

5 Reasons Why Mattresses Are Expensive

Below is an in depth explanation as to why mattresses are so expensive.

1: You’re Buying From a Store

When you buy your mattress from a store, you will typically pay more because retailers push up their prices to cover advertising costs, sales commissions, rent, payroll, and other expenses.

So you can expect the average showroom mattress to be marked up somewhere in the 40-50% range according to those who work in or have extensive knowledge of the mattress industry [1].

However, The Sunday Morning Herald goes on to claim that markups in the 200-300% range are actually possible, and that beds selling for $4,000 are being manufactured in China for just $400 in their article that references ‘a Fairfax investigation’ and also includes quotes from industry experts [2].

(These high markups give you some serious leverage for haggling – more on this in step #5 in the ‘price hacks’ section).

And as the video below explains in more detail, mattress stores will often mark up their mattresses and then offer a discount to make it look like you’re getting a great deal, but you’re actually still paying more than the fair price.

How Mattress Stores Totally Rip You Off (Grunge)

Whilst the precise markup figure and degree to which the mattress industry may be exploiting the ignorance of the consumer can be debated at length, you’ll often find that shopping for your new mattress online could save you money.

Because DTC (direct to consumer) online mattress companies typically cut out many of the additional steps in the supply chain that cause the markup percentages to compound all the way up to the final sale price when buying from a showroom.

So buying your mattress directly from the manufacturer via their website can result in some tidy savings for you.

2: Marketing Tactics

Mattress companies and retailers may work together to make it harder for you to save money.

For example, a mattress company may make very minor adjustments to a single mattress model – such as to the ticking or pattern – so that they can alter the name and distribute ‘different’ models to each retailer [3].

This tactic then makes it harder for you to compare prices and shop around for the best deal because although all the retailers are basically stocking the same mattress, the different labelling makes it look like each model is unique to the casual buyer and therefore more challenging to compare prices.

Shopping online can help you to avoid this issue because you can often find an exact breakdown of the materials, layering design, and overall structure for each mattress so that you can compare them to ensure that you’re not paying more for a mattress that’s almost identical to a cheaper alternative.

Also, Tempurpedic is one of the most established and trusted brands in the market – so they can get away with pushing their prices up.

This has a collateral drag on the rest of the market, whereby other brands also increase their prices simply because people have accepted paying $1,000’s for a new mattress.

3: Limited Second Hand-Market

Very few people want to sleep in a used mattress due to hygiene reasons, the risk of bed bugs, and material degradation (potentially up to 60-70% after 7 years) [4].

This means that the second-hand market exerts zero pressure on the primary mattress market in terms of pulling down the average price point of a new mattress.

However, the second-hand market does exist and you could use it to your advantage when approached correctly – more on this in point #3 in the next section.

4: Better Quality Materials

As a general rule, you can expect to pay more for mattresses that contains a high percentage of certified organic material when compared to a mattress that’s packed with cheap polyfoams.

If you’re looking to avoid toxins because you have allergies or don’t want to risk ruining your home when fiberglass unexpectedly escapes from the mattress when you remove the cover, then going for an organic mattress or a fiberglass free mattress could well be worth the extra cost.

Specific materials that are likely to increase the price of your mattress include:

  • GOLS certified organic latex.
  • GOTS certified organic cotton.
  • Natural fibers.
  • Natural flame retardants like wool – instead of fire barriers soaked in chemicals.
  • Proprietary memory foam.
  • Higher density memory foam and polyfoams.
  • Individually wrapped coils.

5: Specialist Requirements

Going for a mattress that has some of the following special features can increase the cost of a mattress:

  • Orthopaedic qualities – such as firmer or zoned support – to combat pain and support your joints.
  • Edge support – through firmer springs or higher density foams – to stop the edges of the mattress sagging.
  • Is hypoallergenic to reduce the chance of reacting to the materials themselves and potentially stop allergens like dust mites from penetrating the mattress cover.
  • Added cooling capabilities – like gel foam, infused cooling/moisture wicking materials, perforated foams and corrugated designs – to help regulate your temperature.
  • Extra thickness or padding – going for a thicker mattress for greater depth of support and cushioning (and/or a pillow top or Euro top for more pressure relief) can increase the price significantly.

5 Price Hacks to Reduce Mattress Costs

When shopping online, a good quality mattress doesn’t need to cost you any more than $600 – $1,500 for a person with normal sleeping requirements.

Traditional spring mattresses are some of the cheapest mattresses that you can buy – along with some of the lower quality polyfoam and memory foam mattresses – whilst higher end hybrids and organic latex mattresses make for some of the most expensive mattresses.

Below is a table that gives you an approximate estimate of the different price ranges for different mattress types – followed by 5 strategies that you can use to pay less for your new mattress without sacrificing quality.

Mattress TypeLow PriceMid PriceHigh PriceAve. Price (~)
Memory/poly foam<$600Up to $1,500>$1,500$1,000
Traditional spring<$600Up to $1,200>$1,200$900
Organic latex<$1,500Up to $2,500>$2,500$2,000
Hybrid<$1,000Up to $2,500>$2,500$1,750

1: Shop Online

As previously stated, it’s typically cheaper to buy your new mattresses online – you could potentially save up to 50% or more when you factor in discount codes.

Look for sleep trials that last longer than 30 days so that you can return the mattress if you’re still uncomfortable after the 1 month adjustment phase has passed – many online mattress companies offer 100 night trials, whilst others can last up to 1 year or more.

You should also check the fine print to ensure that not only do you get free delivery in your location, but you can also return the mattress for free too.

Some companies will also offer white glove delivery – although this often isn’t needed since many mattresses ordered online will arrive in a compressed box that makes set up relatively easy.

However, you might like to find a company that will also remove your old mattress as part of the deal.

Look for a warranty that’s at least 10 years long and has extensive non-prorated coverage to limit costs in the case of a claim.

Beducation® – Don’t Buy A Mattress Based Upon Warranty

Buying a mattress online might seem scary because you can’t try before you buy, but lying on the mattress in-store for 5 minutes isn’t a reliable indicator of comfort because it can take several weeks for the materials to adjust to your body weight and shape – so going for a 30+ night trial is very important.

Mattress review sites can help you to find a mattress that’s right for you, although you should check out several sites because many of them are owned by mattress companies so they can steer you towards buying their brand.

Before finalising your order, make sure that the mattress dimensions align with your current bed frame and that the base is compatible – you can often add a compatible base to your order at checkout to avoid problems and also save money when compared to buying a frame separately elsewhere.

You can often bundle in pillows and mattress toppers too at a discount or even for free.

2: Leverage Discounts and Sales

When shopping online, you can often find exclusive discounts if you sign up to the manufacturer’s newsletter.

Another trick is to go through the checkout process so that your email address has been collected – but abandon the cart just before payment.

It might take a day or so, but there’s a chance that you’ll receive an email with either a further discount, or a better deal that includes free pillows, sheets, or even mattress protectors, or toppers.

Alternatively, you can express your indecision to the sales rep via live chat and they may sweeten the deal – or you could have success by directly asking for a discount.

Beyond this, you can expect discounts from 10-50% around the following holidays and events:

  • New Year’s – price cuts as inventory is cleared.
  • President’s Day – good discounts to be had with physical stores.
  • Memorial Day – online retailers often have great deals.
  • Independence Day – discounts often start in June and end in mid July.
  • Labour Day – a large sales event for stores and online.
  • Veteran’s Day – clearing stock before the holidays.
  • Black Friday – massive sales event both online and offline.
  • Cyber Monday – sales extensions that last all week are possible.

The best time of the year to buy a mattress is generally in April or May because many companies are looking to sell off old models before they debut their new mattresses in the summer – such deals are not often advertised so make sure to check the prices yourself at this time.

3: Consider the Second-Hand Market

Although I think that it’s better to buy new, you may be able to buy a second hand mattress that’s in good condition for 80-90% less than the typical retail price.

This is a bit of a gamble due to hygiene reasons, but some folks on Reddit say that if you study the pictures, call the owner to ask if a mattress cover was used, and shop in an upscale neighbourhood, then the risks could be lowered.

I personally wouldn’t recommend this strategy but I’ve included it because some people swear by it – so it’s up to you!

4: Leverage 0% APR Finance Deals

Although technically not a way to reduce the cost of buying a new mattress, securing a 0% APR deal can help to increase affordability by spreading the cost across a number of months without you having to pay any interest.

When shopping online, many mattress manufacturers will typically allow you to apply at the checkout when you spend a minimum amount.

5: Haggle

Personally, I would just skip the store and buy online because it saves so much time, money, and energy.

But if you want to go to a store, I would recommend a mom-and-pop set up because they are often better priced and easier to deal with.

However, if you’re going up against a large mattress chain, then you shouldn’t just accept the price that you see on the ticket – it’s possible to save as much as up to 50% or more if you haggle smartly.

The key thing to remember is that a sales person WANTS to sell you a mattress because they will likely be working on commission – so it gives you leverage.

But this means that they will likely try to steer you towards the mattresses that makes them the highest commission initially – push past this and actually take the time to find the model that suits you and is in your price range.

If you head to the back of the store, you’ll probably find some cheaper models tucked away that could be a good fit for you.

How to Get Over a Mattress Salesman!!

And once you’ve found a suitable model – you should walk away to ‘think about it’.

The sales person may react by offering you a discount – but unless it’s a significant discount, I would actually go ahead and leave the store.

I would then look up the model that you liked online to see if you can get it for a better price.

At which point you can buy it online if the savings, warranty, sleep trial, and return policy are a good fit.

Alternatively, you can go back to the store and ask the sales person if they can beat the online deal – or at least match it with some extras thrown in (a mattress protector, topper, pillows, sheets, picking up your old mattress, cutting restocking fees – most of it’s on the table for negotiation).

If they try to fob you off with some nonsense by saying that their mattress isn’t comparable due to some minor detail (recall point #2 in ‘marketing tactics’ – altering minor details to make the mattress look unique) then simply tell them that you’ll go for the online option instead.

They’ll either cave and offer you a better deal – or you can undercut them online.

It’s a win-win for you in either case.

Bonus: Maximize Longevity

Once you’ve bought your mattress, you can decrease the relative cost of the mattress by extending it’s lifespan – meaning that you’re actually paying less per night of sleep.

For example, a mattress that cost $1000 and lasts for 7 years costs $0.39 per night to sleep in.

But if you can make that mattress last 9 years – without sacrificing your comfort or health – then you’re only paying $0.30 per night.

To increase the lifespan of your mattress, you should consider rotating it 180 degrees every 3-6 months to distribute the cumulative surface load to guard against body impressions and sagging (flipping your mattress is NOT normally needed because most modern mattresses are one-sided and flipping it may cause damage and void the warranty).

You should also clean your mattress properly, take extra care when cleaning the mattress cover relative to its type, and consider a mattress protector to increase the lifespan of your mattress further.

Conclusion: Shop Online to Save Money

To summarise the above points, I would say that the biggest action step that you can take to save money when buying a new mattress is to buy directly from the manufacturer online.

Because you’re more likely to find better deals due to cutting out the middlemen, whilst also getting a good warranty and sleep trial without sacrificing on quality.

But if you do have to buy from a store – don’t accept the front ticket price.

And instead haggle like crazy because the high retail markups give you a buffer that you can attack for your own benefit.

Let me know in the comments section below if you prefer shopping online or in store for a new mattress and any ninja tactics that you used to secure an amazing deal.


Sources and References

[1] The Mattress Underground – Average Markup in a Showroom? Accessed 17/7/20.

[2] The Sunday Morning Herald – Mattress Price Comparison Reveals Bedding Retailers Pad Costs of Manufacturing. Accessed 17/7/20.

[3] Huffington Post – How To Haggle For A Mattress, Because You Can (And Should). Accessed 17/7/20.

[4] The Sleep Council – Mattresses Are Most Unwanted Second Hand Item. Accessed 17/7/20.

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