CHICAGO — All regions reported better dry cleaning sales in April, while operators in three of four regions also reported increasing payroll since this time last year, according to data from the latest AmericanDrycleaner.com StatShot survey.
The West posted the largest month-to-month increase at 5.6%, followed closely by the South at 5.5%.
Despite their region’s performance, the majority of operators in the West report seeing “not much change” to local market conditions, due to factors such as “bad weather conditions” and “federal and state economic policies and regulations.”
“We are seeing [an improvement], however there are some smaller locations that are very slow,” comments one cleaner from the West. “The ups are getting better and seeing less dips in the graph.”
Some operators in the South cite a lack of competition as stimulus for increased business.
“Conditions are getting better,” writes one cleaner from the region. “Weaker competition leaving the market [and] employment [is] improving. Consumer confidence seems to be better.”
“[Conditions are] better; really hard to say why, but we’ll take it,” notes another. “We did have one competitor, of three besides us in our market, who closed last June. We have also started a home delivery that has added about 5% to our volume compared to last year.”
Also posting increases in April-to-April sales were the Midwest (3.7%) and the Northeast (3.1%).
“It is getting better for now, but not sure [about] the future,” writes a Northeast cleaner.
“The economy continues to improve, but I believe many consumers are still holding back, waiting for the other shoe to drop,” comments an operator from the Midwest.
Some cleaners attribute market decline to casual dress standards.
“The cause is the matter of very poor dress standards for work, social events and even church,” offers a cleaner from the Midwest. “No one worries anymore about protecting their clothes,” adds another from the region. “They just go buy new [clothing] every year. Clothing has become virtually a disposable item.”
Despite the cloudy industry outlook, three of four regions report having increased payrolls since April 2012. The Northeast posted the largest increase at 3.7%, followed by the South (2.9%) and the West (2.0%). The Midwest was the only region to have cut payroll, down 3.3% from this time last year.
The StatShot surveys the dry cleaning trade audience every month on a variety of financial issues. While the survey presents a snapshot of market performance, it should not be considered scientific.
Audience members are invited via e-mail to participate in these unscientific 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.