Survey: 52% of Dry Cleaners Predict Greater Sales Volume Next Year

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — More than half of dry cleaners asked to offer their rough forecasts for sales in 2012 believe that volume will improve in their area next year, according to the results of American Drycleaner’s final Wire survey for 2011.

Sales volume will either “improve substantially, with at least a 5% year-to-year gain” (20%) or “bounce back a little, with a gain of 0% to 5%” (32%), these respondents predict.

Often, an increase in business for one cleaner means that other cleaners may be suffering or have even closed. “Several good-quality establishments sold and it’s getting harder to find a very good dry cleaner, which is good for me,” says one of the fortunate.

“We’re getting referrals every day,” beams another. “We’ve acquired two competitor routes. We’re looking to a third acquisition.”

Even those predicting higher volume next year know that things won’t be easy. “During the last three years, many people have discovered that they can get through life just fine without dry cleaning,” says a cleaner who is predicting a small bounce back. “It will be an uphill battle to convince them to return to our stores.”

Thirty-six percent of respondents predict that volume will stay “essentially flat” in 2012, while 8% foresee a “slow-but-steady” year-to-year decline of 0% to 5%. Only 4% predict volume will “continue to decline quickly, at a rate of 5% or more.”

Those predicting lower sales blame it generally on the economy, and more specifically on poor quality and customer service by dry cleaners.

“Dry cleaners simply don't get it. This industry is not just for profit,” says one respondent who foresees sales continuing to fall quickly. “It takes work and constant education and improvement. They should learn this quickly before they all begin to fail.”

When asked about initiatives they have planned to help increase sales in 2012, many respondents said their efforts would involve continuing or improving upon their marketing programs to increase visibility.

Others are targeting route sales, training their customer service representatives to cross-sell, and increasing promotion of specialty cleaning and pressing services.

While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.

To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.

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.


To: Editor of American Drycleaner

You guys are sickening. Every month you paint the economic picture as rosy as you possibly can to make Obama look good. It is very subtle, but we are not as stupid as you think. You act the same as the all the liberal media. Stop making things appear rosy.

Of course,since you are all from Chicago, you must be friends with the idiot we have for a president.

Dennis Porter
Porter's Premier Cleaners Springfield,Ill

Sounds like business isn't

Sounds like business isn't going so good for you, Dennis. It is the people taking the survey that are painting a rosy picture, not the publication. I am guessing that you are not attracting customers in droves with your angry and polarizing attitude.


Latest Podcast

Brian Cass, co-owner of Martinizing Metro Milwaukee, shares some practical daily, weekly and other tips for keeping the drycleaning workplace safe and clean.

Want more? Visit the archive »

Digital Edition

Latest Classifieds