CHICAGO – The West was the only region to report better year-over-year sales in June, according to American Drycleaner’s latest StatShot survey. Sales in the West were up a modest 0.9% compared to those tallied in June 2012.
The other three regions reported sales dipping in June compared to the previous year, down 2.2% in the South, 1.7% in the Northeast and 1.0% in the Midwest.
Despite this, dry cleaners in the South report mixed feelings regarding their region’s current market conditions. While some say that conditions are “bad,” or even “dead,” some operators remain optimistic, with some reporting that business is improving.
“Best sales for the first six months of the year ever,” says one dry cleaner there. “Part of it is price increase, part of it is recovery.”
“We have a few jobs opening up in the Mobile area, which we feel will help the economy,” adds another operator in the South.
“Customers remain tight-fisted,” says a cleaner from the Northeast. “But if you push better quality and service, not price, I believe you will grow and flourish. If they want cheap, there are a zillion places to go.”
Results for the second quarter were better overall, with every region posting gains. Leading was the West, up 4.5% compared to second-quarter 2012, followed by the South (1.7%), the Northeast (0.9%) and the Midwest (0.5%).
“Sales continue to bounce up and down, with an overall improvement in quarterly and yearly,” says one dry cleaner from the West. “The market has stayed the same for three years, with maybe a very slight increase, but at least it is not moving back,” adds another cleaner from the region.
Operators in the Midwest report feeling challenged by their region’s “spotty” market conditions or its stiff competition.
“As unemployment continues to be a problem here in Chicagoland, the business climate remains spotty at best,” says one cleaner. “Some days are up, and then many days are flat or down. Shirt volume has been increasing, while drycleaning volume has been stagnant or down.”
“Some areas of our market have as many as seven dry cleaners in a 1-mile radius,” reports an operator from the Midwest. Another adds, “Too many cleaners [are] chasing a declining volume of garments, and even more cleaners [are] opening. Prices are kept low by intense price competition—not a good recipe for success.”
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.