Survey: Most Dry Cleaners Say 2014 Sales Volume as Good or Better than 2013’s

Bruce Beggs |

76% of respondents report better biz than last year

CHICAGO — More than three-quarters of respondents to this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey believe their dry cleaner’s sales volume will end the year as high or higher than their 2013 total, results show.

Thirty percent of respondents say their 2014 volume will “improve substantially, with at least [a] 5% year-over-year gain.” Twenty-six percent say theirs will “bounce back a little, with [a] gain of 0% to 5%.” Another 20% forecast their volume will “stay essentially flat, not shrinking or growing.”

Among those who believe this year’s sales volume will have declined when compared to 2013 numbers, 22% peg a slow but steady decline at between 0% and 5%; just 2% say they’re looking at a sales volume declining to the tune of 5% or more.

Jobs growth, better home sales and a more stable economy are just some of the reasons behind the improved sales figures being reported, according to respondents.

“We’re already up on the year,” writes one respondent. “We live in GOP country,” perhaps referring to Republicans having gained control of Capitol Hill during the November elections (more on that later). “People’s attitudes were positive, but now they’re soaring!”

Other respondents pointed to lower piece counts and a disinterest in dry cleaning among the general populace for their lackluster results:

  • “Lots of our best customers are retiring and cutting back on dry cleaning.”
  • “People are not spending money like they used to, and [drycleaning] dollars are disposable dollars.”
  • “Luxury services have been slow to bounce back after the recession.”
  • “We have seen a steady decline in volume for 20 to 25 years now. I don’t really see anything that would change that in the future.”

So, what will you do boost sales in 2015? For most respondents, it will involve increasing their marketing efforts. Radio ads, social media and direct mail were frequently mentioned as avenues for getting the word out.

One respondent plans to host a local radio show about weddings, which will allow his/her company to market wedding gown cleaning/preservation services.

Others point to taking different approaches to securing business, including concentrating on route development. “Diversification is key to avoid dependency on drycleaning business,” writes a respondent.

Finally, respondents were asked for their reaction to the GOP gaining control of Capitol Hill. Here’s a sampling:

  • “[I] would like to think that GOP control would equal gains for small businesses; we’ll see.”
  • “Guarded optimism. Will watch ‘Obamacare’ developments closely. The cost of healthcare on society as a whole is the elephant in the room.”
  • “Neutral; all politicians are the same.”
  • “It is just a reaction to weak leadership and gridlock. Nothing much will change.”
  • “I am overjoyed. Time to get big government off our backs. Liberals do not use dry cleaning as much as conservatives do.”
  • “Hallelujah!”

While American Drycleaner’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

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.

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.

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