CHICAGO — Self-service laundry owners in the West are starting to see a slight increase in sales for the month of November, and other regions aren’t showing as dramatic of a decrease as in previous months, indicating that perhaps the decline in business due to the economic recession is finally coming to an end, according to a recent AmericanCoin-Op.com StatShot survey.
Survey respondents in the West saw the first sales increase in months, with storeowners in the region reporting an average 3.7% increase in sales for November 2009 compared to November 2008. In addition, other regions reported less dramatic decreases, with the Midwest reporting just a 2.7% drop and the Northeast reporting a 4.7% drop. The South still seems to be suffering, however, with survey respondents reporting a 9.9% sales decrease.
“November 2009 was the best month I’ve had in 15 months,” commented one operator in the Northeast.
We also polled self-service laundry owners on drop-off service. The extra-profit service seems to be a popular offering among laundries in all regions except the West. In the South, 75% of owners said they currently offer drop-off, and 6.3% of respondents in the region said they just started the service this year. In the Midwest, 73.9% currently offer it with 13% having just started the service this year, and in the Northeast, 70% have offered the service for at least two years, the survey shows. In the West, the service doesn’t seem to be as popular, with 52.6% of respondents saying they currently offer the service, and 15.8% said they just started the service this year.
In some cases, the drop-off service is growing where overall sales are dragging. For example, survey respondents in the Midwest who have offered the service for more than a year reported a 9.4% increase in drop-off sales, comparing November 2009 to November 2008.
“Drop-off service has been steady over the past year, even growing some in the last few months,” one operator in the South commented. “Self-service is the worst it has been since I bought the business 18 years ago.”
Most regions reported an average decline in drop-off sales, however. The West reported a 2.9% decrease in drop-off sales for the same period, and the Midwest and South reported 9.4% and 14.2% drops, respectively.
“People are holding back on washing due to the Christmas season,” said one operator. “They [would] rather purchase gifts for their family than drop-off service.”
AmericanCoinOp.com’s StatShot includes information on sales, wages, costs and other financial data based on anonymous survey information provided by industry owners and operators. Subscribers to American Coin-Op’s Wire e-mails are invited to participate in these unscientific surveys, which are conducted online via a partner website, on a regular basis. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define industry trends.
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