CHICAGO — Drycleaning sales continued to fall in the month of August, and some operators have seen competitors close their stores, according to AmericanDrycleaner.com’s most recent StatShot survey.
Drycleaners in the West reported the biggest decrease in sales for August 2009 compared to August 2008, with an average 11.4% drop. The South followed with an average 10.1% decrease. In the Northeast, drycleaners reported an average 9.2% decrease, and in the Midwest, they reported an average 6.6% decrease.
One drycleaner in the South echoed the sentiments of many with the comment, “I continually say that it cannot get any worse, and each month it does.”
“August was the last month in 2008 that sales were up over 2007. Our sales plunged in YTD comparisons starting in Sept. 2008,” said a drycleaner in the Northeast. “We hope that starting next month, sales will show an increase YTD.”
Drycleaners responding to the survey also reported on the number of competitors in their areas in August 2009 compared to August 2008. Nationally, 61% of respondents saw “the same” number of competitors, while 30% saw “fewer” and 9% saw “more.”
The Northeast saw the highest stability of the regions polled, with 69.2% of drycleaners seeing no change in the level of competition and only 19.2% seeing more competitors close up shop; 11.5% reported more competition.
The West — hardest hit by the recession — saw the biggest turnover, with 36.8% of drycleaners reporting competitors closed their stores and only 5.3% seeing more open up; 57.9% stayed the same.
Many survey respondents mentioned being forced into closing their own stores. “[I’m] ready to lock the door and live on public assistance,” said a drycleaner in the West. “My business is less because we dropped two wholesale accounts and closed two stores,” said another in the Northeast. “We also have zero employees. I’m the owner, president, cleaner, presser, counterperson and deliveryman.”
AmericanDrycleaner.com’s StatShot includes information on sales, wages, costs and other financial data based on anonymous survey information provided by industry operators. Subscribers to American Drycleaner’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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