CHICAGO — Asked to offer their rough forecasts for sales in the new year in the most recent survey appearing in the Wire, American Drycleaner’s e-mail newsletter, most drycleaners don’t foresee any radical shifts ahead compared to the results they experienced in 2009.
Almost a third (32.8%) predicted that volume will stay “essentially flat” in 2010, while 27.6% foresee a “slow-but-steady” year-to-year decline of 0% to 5%. About one-fifth (20.7%) answered that sales volume “will bounce back a little” in 2010, with gains of 0% to 5%.
Operators expecting to see a substantial difference tended to believe that the worst of the recession is not yet over. Only 5.2% said they expect to exceed 2009 numbers by 5% or more, while 10.3% say that the market will continue to decline at a rate of 5% or more. Just 3.4% answered “Not Sure.”
Asked what factors went into their analysis, many cited (41.4%) high unemployment as having a negative effect on sales. Many (36.5%) said consumers’ “new frugality” is leading to smaller and less-frequent orders. “It’s the same customers bringing fewer items,” one operator says.
“Everyone seems to be cutting back, almost across the board,” another respondent says. “It’s very rare that we have a customer with higher numbers in 2009 than in 2008. From 1995 through 2007, we were up every year. I think people realize that this isn’t going to be over anytime soon.”
Only about one in ten (9.7%) drycleaners believe that demand in their local markets has reached bottom and started to turn around, pointing to improvements in the housing and commercial real estate markets. “We have stabilized a bit in the area, and increased our marketing budget to increase piececounts,” one operator reports.
While the environment continues to challenge, some drycleaners see opportunity. “On the bright side, I do believe that the cleaning industry will re-emerge with fewer cleaners, [with] greater automation and efficiencies that allow the lower prices consumers seek,” one says. “And market share for the truly higher-priced, higher-quality cleaners will increase.”
While the American Drycleaner Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to American Drycleaner’s Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
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