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Published on June 6th, 2014 | by Mattress Journal


Is an In-Store Mattress Test Enough?

If you’ve ever shopped for a new mattress, you’ve no doubt heard the line that you must test out beds in stores to find “the one”.  You know the drill; go into the showroom, lie down on a mattress for a few minutes, wonder how many other people have tried that bed, chat awkwardly with salespeople, try a few more; wash, rinse, repeat.

The goal is to find a mattress that will provide sweet dreams for several years. But, is an in-store mattress test enough or is there a better way? Are you able to actually get a feel for how it will support you during the night for years to come? According to some experts, the answer is no. Read our tips below to learn more about choosing a bed that will provide comfort and support for years to come.

In-Store Mattress Tests and Satisfaction

The results of a test conducted a couple years ago by RTI indicated that people have difficulty choosing a mattress that will provide long-term comfort in the typical showroom setting. The blind test included 128 participants who were invited to a simulated showroom to test beds and pick the one they thought was most comfortable. They each tested a total of 7 different mattresses for 4 weeks each, and answered surveys about comfort and pain with each bed.

Researchers found that few of the participants experienced the best sleep on the mattress they initially chose during the during the trials, as determined through surveys and motion monitoring. This highlights that how a mattress feels during a brief showroom trial differs from how it feels in home and through a full night of sleep. These results are further supported by other surveys that have gauged buyer’s remorse for mattress purchases as high as 40%!

Why an in-store test isn’t enough

So why do people have a difficult time determining something as seemingly basic as comfort? The truth is that a lot more goes into buying a new mattress.

  • Sales Pressure – Mattress salespeople can be quite aggressive in some stores, and may pressure or steer shoppers towards particular brands that are more profitable. They may also pressure you to commit to purchase or “take advantage of great sale” when you aren’t quite yet sure. The are a variety of sales tactics at work in retail stores that encourage you to buy a mattress that may not be right for you.
  • It’s Uncomfortable – Many people may rush through a showroom test or feel too uncomfortable to truly relax on a mattress in the middle of a store.
  • No Time to Research – A mattress is one of the more expensive things people buy for their homes, and taking some time to research a bed before buying is wise. Getting unbiased information on owner satisfaction and durability can be difficult to do in stores when you only have the salesperson’s word to go on.
  • Limited Selection – Mattress stores are limited by space and other constraints on the variety they carry.  Some specialty beds that have higher overall owner ratings like latex and memory foam can also be difficult to find at reasonable prices. This can leave you settling for bed that’s just okay rather than finding a perfect match.

Tips for Getting the Best Mattress

Getting a new mattress doesn’t have to a gamble or extremely complicated, either. The key to remember is to shop smart and be firm in the face of sales pressure. Here are few tips that can help make your next mattress purchase easier.

  1. Ensure that you can return. Whether shopping in stores or online, look for mattresses that include a hassle free in-home trial with at least 30 days to return or exchange. This is ultimately more important than any showroom test, as it takes your body some time to get used to a new bed. Ask for the fine print of the return policy and what fees would apply.
  2. Be comfortable. If are going on a showroom mattress testing expedition, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to stretch into the positions that you normally sleep in without feeling self-conscious.
  3. Try a variety. There are many brands and types of beds available, so you shouldn’t feel like you have to stick to just one. Test out and research a wide range, and then narrow the field down as you identify what you like and don’t like.
  4. Consider your needs. Think about what you like and dislike about your current bed, your sleep position, and if there are any issues currently affecting your sleep. For example if you have concerns about pressure points, consider a memory foam or latex mattress. If heat is an issue, take a look at open-cell or gel foams. If your partner’s movements disturb you at night, a memory foam or pocket coil bed might help. Any concerns like these can help point you towards the right mattress and avoid potential duds.
  5. Be in control. Remember, you are the customer and you can take your money wherever you choose. If you feel pressured, be firm and clear with what you want. It is perfectly okay to just look around or to ask a bunch of questions before committing, and professional salespeople should be happy to help.
  6. Read reviews. Once you have a couple of beds in mind, start researching them online to see what others have to say. Mattress reviews can provide you insight into durability and service issues and can tell you how a product stands up to competitors.
  7. Compare pricing. The internet is also your most valuable tool for comparing prices and getting the best deal. Search the brand and model, and see what the different retailers are offering. You may also be able to find a better selection of mattresses by shopping online, and better deals. Near major holidays, many retailers will also put ads and press releases out. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if the store can sweeten a deal to earn your business. You might be able to get a discount or free pillows out of the deal, and worst they can say is no, after all.
  8. Ask about warranties. Inquire about the length of warranties, what portion is full coverage and what is pro-rated, and ask what exactly is covered. Some brands may offer long warranties, but cover very little. It is also important to know if you need to use the matching foundation or mattress cover to maintain coverage.

So, when you go to buy a new mattress don’t place all your cards on the showroom test. While it can provide some insight into comfort, a quick trial doesn’t tell you how a bed will feel through a full night of sleep and it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know to make a wise buying decision. Focus on mattress details, reviews, and comparing a variety of beds rather than settling on the first mattress in the showroom that feels alright.

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