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Most Drycleaners Hold Prices Steady Despite Falling Sales, Survey Shows

Jason Hicks |

CHICAGO — Most drycleaners held prices steady as sales continued to fall in the month of May, according to a recent AmericanDrycleaner.com StatShot survey.
Comparing May 2009 to the same month last year, drycleaners in the South reported the biggest decrease in sales, with an average 9.1% drop. The Midwest followed with an average 8.4% decrease. In the West, drycleaners reported an average 7.6% decrease, and in the Northeast, they reported an average 4.7% decrease.
While drycleaners reported a slight increase in prices for May 2009 compared to May 2008, most increases were small, likely indicating normal adjustments for inflation and other factors rather than a change in business strategy. The South showed the greatest increase in prices, with drycleaners in the region reporting an average 1.9% increase. In the Midwest, drycleaners reported an average 1.8% increase. In the Northeast, prices went up 1.4%, and in the West, they edged up just 0.2%.
“Adjusting prices downward is both short-sighted and ineffective in almost all cases,” said one drycleaner in the Midwest. “Unless you are changing your business model and becoming a discounter or a one-price cleaner, customers are not moved to act by small price drops, and it has the potential to destroy your bottom line.”
While most drycleaners have kept overall pricing steady, some introduced specials or raised prices only on certain items. One survey respondent in the South reported increasing shirt prices 12%.
“Pricing specials are fine, and they should be a part of advertising or marketing plans,” said a drycleaner in the West. “However, $.99 and $1.25 for shirts doesn’t help anyone, and the ‘$2.50 any garment’ concept hurts everyone. We need to raise — not drop — our pricing.”
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 unscientific 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

Jason Hicks

American Drycleaner

Jason Hicks was assistant editor for American Trade Magazines, which publishes American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News, for more than nine years, and web editor for three years.

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