GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jerry Epperson has four words of encouragement as he looks at bedding’s prospects next year. Those words are: Home sales and housing starts.

Industry analyst Epperson, who has spent a career analyzing economic trends and predicting how they will play out in the home furnishings industry, cites two positives for next year: Growth in existing home sales and in housing starts.

As he gazes into his crystal ball, Epperson, an executive with Mann, Armistead & Epperson, sees a nice rebound for the mattress category next year. He believes that a forecasted 7% gain in existing home sales and a 4.8% increase in housing starts will produce “a recovery” in mattress sales, which have been modest this year, according to bedding observers.

That bedding recovery will yield 3.5% unit growth next year and 6% growth in the wholesale value of bedding shipments, according to the International Sleep Products Assn. Epperson is a member of ISPA’s forecast panel.

But Epperson also sounds a cautionary note: The economy is leveling out.

As he looks to 2018, Epperson’s crystal ball envisions slower growth.