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Bedding Delays: COVID-19 and You


Having to wait for your new bed? Take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone…

If you’ve tried purchasing a new bed (or anything for that matter) you may have joined the multitude of people in the same, rather large boat: People waiting for their mattress. Like most industries, the bedding world has not been immune to the effects of COVID-19. Of the many effects the pandemic has had on the industry, perhaps the singly largest factor in all the delays has been the demand for non-woven fabric.

What is Polypropylene Non-woven Fabric?

What is Polypropylene Non-woven Fabric?  Polypropylene is an extruded flexible resin polymer and is often simply referred to as “non-woven.”  The processes to undergo making non-woven involves extrusion and several chemical and heat processes, producing a material designed to have the look, feel, and quality of a woven cloth fabric.  The unique properties of non-woven have made it ideal for numerous items from reusable grocery bags, sanitary wipes, lunch bags, coolers, upholstered furniture,  performance wear, pocketed spring mattress encasements, and, of course, masks.

What are the benefits of Non-woven?

  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Exceedingly durable
  • Very flexible
  • Air permeable
  • Water repellent and/or moisture-wicking to mitigate odors and bacteria
  • Among others

Non-woven fabric is so ubiquitous you’ve probably come across it on a daily basis without even knowing it. Uses include:

  • PPE equipment of all kinds
    • Gowns, drapes, caps, scrubs, gloves, shoe covers, wound dressings and, of course, masks)
  • Filters
    • Gas/oil filters, coffee filters, tea bags, vacuum bags, HEPA filters, etc.
  • Ground Fabrics
    • Roadway underlayment, erosion control, drainage systems, frost protection, pond/water barriers, landfill liners, etc.
  • Other uses include:
    • Diapers, carpet backing, backing for machine embroidery, pillows, cushions, mattress cores, house wrap, cleaning wipes, potting material for plants, etc. And the list goes on.

Non-woven in mattresses is primarily found in two locations: pocketed-style spring cores and as the backing for embroidery.  The quilt (top) layers of a matter of material are all quilted (sewn) together to prevent shifting of the materials, and to also change feel in the initial surface of the mattress by varying the style of stitch pattern on the surface, therefore allowing the upholstery material to be stitched down tighter, generally, for firmer mattresses and less so for beds of the softer variety.  Non-woven material is used as a durable, flexible, breathable layer used under the quilt materials that allows the thread something durable to hold and prevent the quilt thread from pulling through and coming out.  Additionally, and more important to the story of delays, is the use of non-woven fabric in pocketed-style spring systems. Pocketed-style springs must be encased in a fabric in order to orient them correctly in a vertical position and the benefit of non-woven fabric’s ability to be ultrasonically welded and glued, as well as being breathable, durable, flexible, and lightweight all  make it the ideal material for pocketed-spring cores.

Where has all the non-woven gone?

It’s overly-simplified, but due to COVID-19, non-woven fabrics have been directed to the the production of PPE equipment – and they cannot produce it fast enough.  Although production of non-woven fabrics has been drastically ramped up, because of the tremendous demand for PPE equipment, a force majeure clause has been enforced in many industries, diverting the production of non-wovens from other industries to PPE equipment so desperately needed for front-line workers. 

Why does this mean a delay for my mattress?

All of this means that your mattress that uses a pocketed-style spring is going to take longer to receive.  Mattresses are produced as-needed/ordered. They are not sitting around in a warehouse waiting to be shipped.  Most bedding companies operate on a ‘just-in-time‘ manufacturing model, very simply meaning that merchandise is not waiting around, it is produced as soon as the order is received and then shipped. (See also LEAN manufacturing). One of the downsides to this method of production is the ease at which a supply chain disruption can have on overall output, especially during a global pandemic situation.  Manpower has also been a huge issue.  Many, if not most, plants were forced to shut down during this time and for financial and/or safety reasons, some workers have been more reluctant than others to go back to the jobs they had before the pandemic.  There is some cause for concern that the CARES Act and the additional, yet necessary, $600/wk was partly to blame for the lack of manpower at the factories after the shutdown orders were lifted.  

Increased Demand

After being closed, once the factories opened up they were absolutely inundated with orders and the combination of 1. shortage of components 2. lack of manpower 3. force majeure all combined to create a perfect storm of in the order of delays for mattresses.  Why the suddenly high demand?  We have speculated as to the reasons for the unusually high demand for mattresses in particular after opening up.  What we can surmise is that people were spending more time in their beds and that the poor condition of their mattress was finally rearing its ugly head, the additional $600/wk that many families were now receiving, and nothing else to spend money on.  Vacations were out, people were driving less, eating at home more and generally saving money all around.  Although this is not the case for everyone, these seem to be some of the driving factors when it came to why there was SUCH an increase in demand shortly after the lockdown orders were lifted and up to this point. 

What it all  means

In short, it means rising costs and increased delays when purchasing a new mattress.  These delays will not last forever, however they are predicted to get worse before they get better.  While all of our  manufacturers are doing everything humanly possible to produce beds at a higher rate, some beds are being made sacrificial lambs and have been put on the back burner until supplies return to normal.  One such bed is is an entire line from Therapecic called the TheraLuxe collection. These mattresses use the QLX HD quantum spring and are generally geared toward more ample-sized sleepers and is slightly more on the niche side of bedding.  The manufacturer has stated that they are unsure when Leggett & Platt, who produced the spring, will be able to get them this spring unit, and, instead of putting the beds on indefinite back order, has told us that we should refrain from highlighting these particular models for now as reception date for these springs is as of yet unknown.

What you can do

Your best bet during this time is patience. Beds are still being produced, they’re just going to take a little bit longer to receive, is all.  Remember, it’s not the retailer who is responsible for these delays, so please be aware they are experiencing as many hardships in getting your bed as you are.          

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