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Survey: High Percentage of Dry Cleaners Believe Prices Charged are ‘Too Low’

Nearly 54% of respondents have raised prices this year

CHICAGO — A majority of dry cleaners (44.4%) believe that—based on what dry cleaners in their area (including their business) are charging—prices are “too low.” That’s the key finding from this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey.

About 22% believe that operators are charging a “fair price,” while 20.6% say pricing “varies too much to make a general statement.” Equal shares of 6.4% say that prices are “too high” or that they are “not sure” if pricing is too high or low.

Nearly 54% of dry cleaners polled have raised service prices this year. Reasons mostly related to keeping up with rising labor, utilities and supply costs.

Do you offer any type of explanation to customers when you raise your drycleaning prices? Among respondents to the anonymous survey, 41.3% do but 58.7% do not.

Nearly 80% of dry cleaners sometimes add upcharges based on garment condition, size, type of fabric, etc.

Only 25.4% say their prices are “clearly displayed” in their stores.

How important do you think pricing is to customers? Among respondents, 46% believe “it’s among the two or three most important factors,” and 38.1% say it’s “no more important than things such as service quality and convenience.”

Roughly 11% believe that “it’s only really important when competitors are lowballing prices.” Roughly 2% say it’s “the most important factor when choosing a dry cleaner.” The remaining 3.2% aren’t sure how important pricing is to customers.

American Drycleaner invited respondents to comment on pricing in general, and many were eager to do so:

  • “The work that goes into removing a major stain takes skill, and there should be a premium for that type of work.”
  • “‘Right’ pricing in our industry is difficult because of competition price wars.”
  • “Prices are too low but everybody is willing to give it away just to get the work.”
  • “For many years, each time we raised prices, we lost pieces. The problem is not the competitors—customers are making a conscious decision to not dry-clean.”
  • “If operators truly knew what their costs are, they would raise their prices. Shirts are a perfect example of undercharging.”
  • “There are two tiers in my market: one is the discount cleaners, and the other are the higher-quality ones. I view these as very different markets.”
  • “I never pay attention to competitors’ prices, only to my cost to produce the very best quality possible with the equipment and personnel available.”

The Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment and should not be considered scientific. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited each month to take a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously. The entire trade 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].