CHICAGO — Every region reported garnering better drycleaning sales in June when compared to the same month one year earlier, according to results of this month’s American Drycleaner StatShot survey.
Dry cleaners in the South posted the largest collective gain, with sales up an average of 6.7% in the region. Cleaners in the West and Midwest weren’t far behind with average gains of 4.9% and 4.6%, respectively. Despite finishing last among the four regions, cleaners in the Northeast still saw their June sales rise an average of 3.0% compared to the prior June.
Participants were asked to reveal their greatest day-to-day challenge in operating their drycleaning business in the past month. For many, it was dealing with personnel and related issues. Here are some select responses:
- “Finding enough people to do the work. First quarter was real bad because of the weather being so poor and cold. Signs of wage inflation without possibility of increasing customer prices, thus leading to reduced margins.” — Northeast
- “Staffing. We have backed off on advertising until we can get fully staffed and trained.” — Midwest
- “Staffing – poor work ethic. [One worker was] out three days first month on the job. Another new hire needed time off because of family problems.” — South
- “Getting pressers that can press [to] the industry standards.” — South
Equipment maintenance demands, reduced cash flow due to shrinking volume, and the summer heat have also taxed dry cleaners recently, according to the survey results.
Second-quarter (April, May and June) sales gains in the South (averaging 3.2%) trailed those in the West by half a percentage point, which were up an average of 3.7% over the same period last year. Dry cleaners in the Northeast posted an average sales gain of 2.0% for the quarter, while those in the Midwest enjoyed a 1.5% boost, on average.
The StatShot surveys the drycleaning trade audience each month on a variety of financial issues. While the survey presents a snapshot of market performance, it should not be considered scientific.
American Drycleaner audience members are invited via e-mail to participate anonymously in the surveys, which are conducted online via a partner website. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define industry trends.