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Drycleaning Owners View of the Economy

CHICAGO — We asked our audience in this 2018 year-end American Drycleaner Your Views survey to tell us: “Is your drycleaning business generating more sales today than at this same time last year?” You responded this way:

“Absolutely, much more,” say 10%. “Yes, slightly more,” say 33%. “Same,” say 22%. “No, less,” say 27%. “Not at all, much less,” say 8%. (See graphic.)

We also asked: “If your sales have improved in 2018, what factors were responsible? (Check all that apply.)” Note: percentages in these multiple answers add up to more than 100%.

We received these responses: “Customer base increased,” say 42%. “Competition decreased,” say 39%. “Costs/expenses decreased,” say 10%. “Offered additional service or extra-profit centers,” say 13%. “Boosted marketing efforts,” say 19%. “Increased prices,” say 52%. “Other,” say 23%.

Among the “Other” replies, respondents answered:

“We purposely shrunk our business due to some changes to how we do things (turnaround time, etc). Now we’re moving forward and growing again in the new normal.”“Rebranding; redesigned website; started advertising on social media.”“My competitor’s store burned recently and I am going to build a new store soon.”

The survey asks: “What is the best thing that happened to your business in 2018?”

Respondents answered: 

“More customers who aren’t afraid to spend a little money now.”“Replaced old equipment.”“Focusing on new wholesale accounts. Offering more services and diversifying to increase customer base.”“Other drycleaning owners going out of business.”“Simplified our operation. Changed from three shifts to one shift only.”“Changed computer systems, bought new delivery trucks, and rebranded, including updated logo.”

The survey also asks: “If your sales haven’t improved since this time last year, what do you blame it on?”

Respondents answered: 

“Decreased personal spending, inexpensive and simple wardrobes being produced and worn by millennials.”“Inexpensive clothes that do not need ironing and/or pressing. Also a big factor is, in our area, people are not dressing up, even for church.”“Trickle-down economy hasn’t trickled down to this industry.”“The way people dress, and too many dry cleaners serving too few customers.”

The survey asks: “What are your own business expectations for 2019?”

Forty-four percent of respondents indicated they had confidence their business will keep improving, however 56% indicated they felt their business will stay about the same (28%) or remain in decline (28%).

When the survey asks: “What makes you say that?” Respondents commented: 

“This area is growing and, as always, when things are going well, we reinvest into our business.”“We are actively looking to grow other commercial opportunities.”“New movers coming to town.”“The size of the market is not growing.”“Less people coming in the door, and small poundage numbers.”“Until people change their dressing habits, we will continue to struggle to increase sales from a declining volume of garments.”

The survey concludes by asking, “Anything else you’d like to add about textile care in the current U.S. business climate?”

Respondents commented: 

“Always be aware that our market is ever-changing.”“Seems to be a lost cause.”“We continue to grow each year, just not at a rate that we did historically in the past. We must continue to create value in the customer experience so that our business and profit will continue.”“It’s not easy; working harder then before. I can’t tell anymore what’s going to happen. Scary.”“Read your labels, often!”“Tough.”

The Your Views survey offers a current snapshot of the trade audience’s views. Qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited to participate anonymously in the unscientific poll.

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