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Survey: Dry Cleaners Approach 2014 with Cautious Optimism

CHICAGO — Dry cleaners are looking ahead to 2014 with some optimism, as 30.8% predict their sales volume will “bounce back slightly with gains of 0% to 5%,” according to results from this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey.

Nearly 19% predict their sales volume will “improve substantially with at least 5% year-to-year gain,” while 27.5% forecast their sales volume to “stay essentially unchanged.”

Some dry cleaners are a bit more wary with their 2014 predictions, as 18.7% believe their sales volume will “experience slow but steady decline of 0% to 5%,” while 4.4% believe it will “decline quickly at a rate of 5% or more.”

“The ever increasing acceptance of very casual dressing … is fashionable and accepted in the best restaurants and at work,” says one dry cleaner. “The really interesting thing you should ask is … ‘How did you do in 2013 compared to 2003?’ That number is the real eye opener and shows the true nature of how bad the industry is hurting.”

“As the cost of dry cleaning keeps increasing from a producer and consumer standpoint, less people will [be able to] afford or will cut back,” says another. “Rents in good drycleaning markets keep going up more than normal, with retailers chasing the markets with high per capita income … The impact of Obamacare can’t help but make the future uncertainty continue for both the dry cleaner and its customer.”

“We’ve been holding steady with keeping most customers, but their volume is down,” adds another dry cleaner. “We’re still getting many referrals from existing customers and retailers we work with. I’m expecting to increase business overall.”

Many dry cleaners are turning to more online initiatives to boost business.

“Next year’s budget will spend more on Internet marketing, including a new website design, especially mobile, and greater functionality of customer interaction and intelligence gathering,” says one dry cleaner.

“The Internet brings in customers; you can’t deny it anymore,” adds another. “If you’re still living in the 1970s with your equipment, advertising and labor dollars, there is no sense in ‘hoping for a recovery.’”

While some are considering raising prices, providing coupons/specials, investing in new equipment, or beefing up their overall marketing efforts, others are solely focusing on providing quality customer service.

One dry cleaner says he/she will “zero-in on quality control [and] increase training of employees.” Another adds that he/she will “show up every day and try to improve our product at current prices.”

While American Drycleaner’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited each month to participate in a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously.

The entire American Drycleaner audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].