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The Economy Is Still in Recession, Drycleaners Say

Ian P. Murphy |

CHICAGO — Last month, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the economy had resumed slow growth, meaning that the recession has come to an end. “Main Street,” however, disagrees: Asked, “Based on your experience, do you believe that the recession has come to an end?” an overwhelming 86.5% of drycleaners answered “No,” according to the most recent Wire survey. Just 7.7% said that the economy is improving, and 5.8% answered “Don’t know.”
Sales are down 20% to 25% in many areas from last year, operators reported, and may take years to rebuild. “Technically, the recession may be over for the nation,” one operator says. “However, due to the discretionary nature of our business, I believe we were one of the first ‘luxuries’ cut — and if this recession is like the others, we will be one of the last added back.”
Job growth would probably continue to be weak, Bernanke added, and two-thirds (68.9%) of drycleaners reported that their operations have indeed shed employees since this time last year. Staffing stayed the same at 27.2% of plants, while only 3.9% added staff. Several respondents reported that staffing has stayed the same, but overall hours worked have been reduced.
At best, a few drycleaners report, sales have bottomed out and slow growth is resuming. “Although fall volume is up a tick,” one respondent says, “until those who lost their jobs and those who are worried about their jobs are confident, the spending we saw before the recession will not return.”
While the American Drycleaner Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to American Drycleaner’s Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
Click here and follow the menu instructions to sign up for the free e-mail service.
 

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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