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Survey: West’s Dry Cleaners Post Strong First-Half Performance While Midwest Takes Hardest Hit

CHICAGO — Dry cleaners in the West reported a 3.9% increase in year-over-year sales last month, the largest for August among all regions, according to results from this month’s American Drycleaner StatShot survey.

Cleaners from the West also posted the strongest jump in first-half 2013 profits, up 3.3% over first-half 2012 profits. Despite the gains, some from the region have a contrary tone about market conditions.

“Economy is still dragging on,” says one dry cleaner there. “[I saw] another dry cleaning plant close nearby. Still in survival mode.”

“After doing quite well just before the ‘depression’ hit, things have been on a slow decline and have leveled for the most part in the past two years,” says another cleaner in the West. “We are now at a very perilous point in spite of our efforts.”

Dry cleaners from the South posted similar gains in year-over-year sales last month, up 3.1%, but saw a decline in first-half 2013 profits, down 3.3%, over first-half 2012.

Some cleaners there reported tepid growth in the face of a struggling local economy.

“We have had about 12% sales growth thus far in 2013. August results, however, are a bit disappointing,” says a dry cleaner from the region. “Cost increases associated with a new delivery route and additional management expense have consumed additional revenue. It is nice to be stable and see a bit of growth, however.”

“Economy [is] poor in North Florida,” says another dry cleaner there. “Same number of customers, but smaller orders. Fewer shirts and more press-only requests.”

While the Northeast saw a minimal decline in August year-over-year sales (down 0.8%), its first-half 2013 profits were up 2.9%.

“We keep getting new customers every day,” says a cleaner from the region. “We are in the high-end market and there is still great demand for our services.”

“Economy and casual attire continue to [negatively] impact [business],” says another cleaner there.

The Midwest’s dry cleaners took the hardest hit in August 2013 sales, and in first-half 2013 profits, as year-over-year sales fell 2.8%, and first-half 2013 profits were down 4.4%.

“Market conditions remain weak, although shirt volume is up the last three months, and this is with a price increase” says a Midwest dry cleaner. “Attitude is still cautiously optimistic.”

“I am guardedly optimistic,” adds another cleaner from the region. “There is currently a large construction project in our area that has the potential to help drive the local economy in a positive way and is beginning to show its presence.”

The StatShot surveys the dry cleaning trade audience every month on a variety of financial issues. While the survey presents a snapshot of market performance, it should not be considered scientific.

American Drycleaner audience members are invited via e-mail to participate anonymously in the unscientific surveys, which are conducted online via a partner website. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define industry trends.


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