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Why are some mattress stores still open amid coronavirus pandemic?

·4 min read

Would you lie down on a bed that someone else has tested during the coronavirus pandemic?

Some Americans apparently are doing just that, because certain mattress stores, including locations of the nation's largest mattress retailer, are still open during the COVID-19 crisis.

No. 1 seller Mattress Firm, which has more than 2,500 stores throughout the country, confirmed that some of its locations are still open and said it's taking necessary precautions to protects its employees and customers.

Some smaller mattress shops are also still operating, though stores in California and some other states are closed due to stay-at-home orders that are stricter than in other states. They say they provide an essential service and should be allowed to continue operating.

"Some areas are permitting our stores to stay open based on local orders since furniture and bedding products are still a need for local consumers with family members who may be quarantined in the same home, family members who are sheltering together unexpectedly, and consumers who moved into new homes prior to the commencement of the crisis, among other reasons," Mattress Firm CEO John Eck said in emailed comments provided to USA TODAY through a spokesperson.

"We are reviewing all orders closely to ensure we are in compliance. Depending on the area, we may have phone only contactless stores operating or private appointments, and like many retailers currently operating, we’re offering the option for contactless, doorstep delivery."

Mattresses are offered for sale at a Mattress Firm store on Dec. 6, 2017, in Chicago.
Mattresses are offered for sale at a Mattress Firm store on Dec. 6, 2017, in Chicago.

In Columbus, Ohio, Liberty Freight Furniture and Mattress owner John Corriveau said it would be short-sighted to deem mattress sales as non-essential.

“I sell lift chairs and adjustable beds. I sell to group homes," Corriveau said.

But he was also open to the general public for more conventional items as of late March.

“I can’t say we’re closing down, but we’re not asking them to come,” Corriveau said.

Some mattress companies are arguing that they're essential businesses because they sell household consumer products, said Michael Magnuson, founder of independent mattress information site GoodBed.

"And in New York, there is apparently a loophole that allows you to operate your business if it can be staffed by only one employee (which for many mattress stores is typical anyway)," he said in an email.

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Tempur Sealy, which sells the Tempur-Pedic brand, said all of its 62 U.S. stores have closed temporarily.

"The safety and health of our customers and employees remains paramount during this time," Tempur Sealy spokesperson Erin Maratea said in an email.

Bed-in-a-box company Casper said it has also closed all of its physical stores but continues to sell mattresses online.

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Mattress Firm CEO Eck said the retailer has "adopted heightened sanitation efforts at all stores."

Those steps include "enhanced, regular cleaning of high-touch points," "providing customers with pillow napkin protectors for them to use while lying down on a bed" and asking employees to stay home if they don't feel well or are uncomfortable working, according to a company blog post.

Eck said in the blog post that some customers need to buy a mattress immediately because they "have found themselves in a situation where they have additional family members who may be sheltering together in the same house, some unexpectedly, or they recently moved prior to this crisis, and they all need a place to sleep."

Despite some stores remaining open and online sales continuing, the mattress industry is still suffering from the crisis. It's yet another blow for a sector that has been roiled by intense competition, over-expansion and scandal in recent years. Mattress Firm survived a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2018 but not without closing several hundred locations.

"Mattresses tend to be pretty cyclical with the economy since they're the type of purchase that you could put off (unlike an appliance, which can break and stop functioning completely, for example)," Magnuson said. "Online sales seem to be a little more resilient but are still negatively affected."

Contributing: Keith BieryGolick of Cincinnati Enquirer

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can you buy a mattress during coronavirus? Yes, in some places