StatShot: Northeast Only Region to Post Increased Dry Cleaning Sales in September, Third Quarter

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO – The Northeast was the lone bright spot for September dry cleaning sales, posting a 5.7% gain compared to sales for September 2010, according to the latest StatShot survey.

In comparing September 2011 sales to September 2010, the South saw a 1.2% decrease and the Midwest a 1.4% decline. The West was hit the hardest, with sales down 6.1% from a year earlier.

“Even with aggressive promotions, sales continue to slide in Southern California,” reports a Western operator.

The Northeast was also the only region to post gains in third-quarter sales from a year ago. They were up 2.8%. The other regions reported declining sales when compared to the previous year’s July, August and September: South, down 0.9%; Midwest, down 3.1%; and the West, down 4.8%.

“Our business has been excellent,” reports an operator from the Northeast. “A contributing factor I believe is the Marcellus shale drilling and pipeline welding going on just over the (New York) border in (Pennsylvania). Even without that, business has been excellent.” Another operator has noticed an “increasing amount of ‘help wanted’ signs, especially for manufacturing plants.”

But it’s not all wine and roses in the region. “From 2008 to 2011, (we are) down 22%,” says another dry cleaner there.

In the regions posting smaller declines, comments were mixed.

“July was a train wreck, but August and September were both up months,” reports one Midwestern dry cleaner. “Continuing into October, sales are up as well. Maybe this is the end of three years of declines. It is too early to tell. Forecasting remains very difficult.”

A Southern operator says their business during the first two weeks of October was the best it’s been in two years. Another reports having benefited from a more aggressive marketing approach and the closure of a competitor.

A Midwestern operator was less optimistic. “Still no relief in sight for our industry. Still way too many dry cleaners to service a steadily declining total available volume.” surveys the trade audience every month on a variety of issues facing the dry cleaning industry. While the StatShot survey presents a snapshot of operators’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Audience members are invited to participate anonymously in these 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.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


Too many operators

The advent of valet drycleaning businesses that rely on local plants to process the work may look like a good thing for a slow plant, but they are only a trojan horse. Enabling someone to enter the business with little to no upfront capital expense is a death knell. The services enter a market taking business away from the plant operators with the "sale" that they will bring more busines to you, but the opierator is getting only a fraction of the price, usually half. A route does not cost 50% to operate, but most plant owners are too lazy to start their own route. We as plant owners must stop enabling people to cannibalize our markets. If someone wants to enter the drycleaning business, make them pay al the costs that you incurred as a plant owner, not just the cost of a van.


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