CHICAGO — Half of dry cleaners asked to offer their rough forecasts for sales in 2013 believe that volume will improve in their area next year, according to the results of American Drycleaner’s final Wire survey for 2012.
Sales volume will either “improve substantially, with at least a 5% year-to-year gain” (18.8%) or “bounce back a little, with a gain of 0% to 5%” (31.3%), these respondents predict.
But there are times when an increase in business for one cleaner means that other cleaners may be suffering or have even closed. “The market in our area is improving. Weaker competition is failing,” wrote one respondent. Another reported that pounds and pieces for 2012 matched 2011 while two cleaners closed nearby.
The economy drives the dry cleaning business, according to one cleaner: “When economy is good, dry cleaning is a necessity. When economy is bad, dry cleaning is a luxury.”
Approximately 38% of respondents predict that volume will stay “essentially flat” in 2013, while the remaining 12.5% foresee a “slow-but-steady” year-to-year decline of 0% to 5%.
“There is still a considerable amount of uncertainty among businesses and consumers,” opined one respondent. “We are still seeing irrational responses to any market news.”
When asked about initiatives they have planned to help increase sales in 2013, many respondents said their efforts will involve continuing or improving upon their marketing programs to increase visibility. One is planning a “full-on” campaign to promote a new cleaning system.
Other cleaners are looking at keeping prices low. “We are at break-even, but as long as we keep our employees working, then we, as owners, will take the hit,” wrote a respondent.
One operator is looking toward expansion. “While we do not expect significant growth in same-store numbers, we also feel the market desperately looking for good news. We are looking for locations for new stores.”
The Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment but 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.