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Drycleaners Across the Country Feel Economic Crunch; West Hit Hardest, Survey Shows

Ian P. Murphy |

CHICAGO — The tanking economy has taken its toll on drycleaners across the country, as they report plummeting sales for January, as well as the fourth quarter of 2008 and 2008 as a whole, according to a recent AmericanDrycleaner.com StatShot survey. Drycleaners in the West have been hit the hardest of the four regions polled.
When comparing January 2009 to the same month last year, drycleaners in the West report an average 13.96% decrease (80.8% of those responding reported a loss). The Northeast followed closely with an average 9.42% decrease (78.9% of those responding reported a loss). In the Midwest, drycleaners report an average 9.37% decrease, and in the South, they report an average 6.78% decrease.
The West was also hit hardest in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to fourth-quarter 2007, with drycleaners in the region reporting an average 10.0% drop. In the South, drycleaners report an average 6.64% drop. In the Midwest, sales were down 4.17%, and in the Northeast, sales fell 3.53%.
In the West, the drycleaners surveyed report an average 4.12% decrease in sales for all of 2008. The Midwest was hit second-hardest with an average 2.96% drop, and the South had an average 2.49% drop. The Northeast finally managed to pull some positive numbers here, with an average 0.42% sales increase.
One drycleaner in the West summed up the situation with, “Crappy, crappy, crappy! Barely hanging on, overall doing about 1/3 [the] business we need — not want, need — to be doing,” while another commented, “My sales have been jumping up and down like a yo-yo! Every time the government tries to fix something, the fear sends sales through the floor.”
One cleaner in the Midwest said, “I’m closing my doors. I can no longer give my customers the service they need and cover the cost of doing business.”
The news isn’t all bad, however. While most drycleaners in the West are struggling, the few who actually report an increase in sales indicate rather large jumps. The 7.7% of drycleaners reporting an increase in sales for January 2009 compared to the previous year reveal a 9% jump, while the 11.5% with an increase in the fourth quarter of 2008 report a 26.7% jump. The 19.2% with an increase in calendar year 2008 report a 23.8% jump.
“Changing my price structure helped,” commented one drycleaner in the West.
AmericanDrycleaner.com’s StatShot includes information on sales, wages, costs and other financial data based on anonymous survey information provided by industry operators. Subscribers to American Drycleaner’s Wire e-mails are invited to participate in these surveys, which are conducted online via a partner website, on a regular basis. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define industry trends.
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About the author

Ian P. Murphy

American Drycleaner

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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