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2015-16 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry (Part 1)

More than 71% report increase in 2015 overall business

CHICAGO — Do you believe your self-service laundry business measured up favorably to others in the industry last year? Did you have a good year or a bad year in 2015? How does your pricing compare with others?

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers store owners and operators the opportunity to compare their operation to others in the industry.

This year’s survey focused on 2015-2016 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common challenges, turns per day and utilities cost.

In instances where respondents were asked about 2015 business results, they were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged. This is a departure from surveys compiled in 2011 and earlier, when respondents were asked only if their business was up or down. Keep this in mind as you’re making comparisons to previous years’ results.

This survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op subscribers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.

2015 BUSINESS VS. 2014

Roughly 64% of respondents own just one self-service laundry, while 35.7% are multi-store owners (28.6% of total respondents own two or three stores, 7.1% own four or more stores).

For 2015, 71.4% of operators say their overall coin laundry business increased from that of 2014. Specifically, these operators reported an increase in business (gross dollar volume) last year compared to 2014.

In last year’s survey, 58.8% of respondents reported an increase, while 55% reported seeing sales growth in the survey prior.

The average 2015 business increase was 9.6%, up from 8.9% in 2014. Other past average business increases were 9.6% (2013), 11.7% (2012), 11.5% (2011), 10.8% (2010), 7.9% (2009) and 14% (2008).

Following is a breakdown of 2015 business increases (the figures relate to those reporting increases, not all respondents):

  • Operators with a business increase of less than 10%: 53.3%
  • Operators with a business increase of 10-14%: 30%
  • Operators with a business increase of 15% or more: 16.7%

Roughly 17% of operators faced a decrease in business (in gross dollar volume) in 2015, down from approximately 29% in 2014. The percentage was 25% in 2013, 30% in 2012, 35% in 2011, 58% in 2010 and 59.8% in 2009.

The average business decrease in 2015 was 16.3%, a sizable jump from 6.6% in 2014. Prior average decreases were 8.7% in 2013, 9.5% in 2012, 10.2% in 2011, 11.2% in 2010, 13.7% in 2009 and 14.3% in 2008.

Here’s a closer look at 2015 business decreases (again, the figures relate to those reporting decreases, not all respondents):

  • Operators with a reduction of less than 10%: 14.3%
  • Operators with a reduction of 10-14%: 14.3%
  • Operators with a reduction of 15% or more: 71.4%

Slightly more than 14% of respondents say 2015 business was unchanged compared to 2014 business.

These figures reflect a continued growth in business, on average. The percentage of respondents reporting an overall increase in business in 2015 jumped nearly 13 percentage points from 2014. The average business increase was greater than the previous year’s for the first time in three years.

While the 2015 average business decrease (16.3%) was significantly higher than 2014’s, the share of responding operators who saw business decline dropped from roughly 29% in 2014 to 16.7% last year.


Drop-off service—making the most of customers’ predilection for convenience—bounced back in a serious way from its slowdown the prior year, according to the latest industry numbers.

Roughly 52% of operators reported that drop-off service business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2015. This figure is nearly triple the 2014 share of approximately 18%.

The average increase in drop-off service business last year was 13.7%, up slightly from 2014’s 12.3%. The figure had declined each of the prior two years.

Approximately 15% of respondents saw a decrease in drop-off-service business, down some 12 percentage points from 2014’s 27%.

The average decline in drop-off-service business in 2015 was 16%, down from 11.3% in 2014. Previous average declines in drop-off-service business were 9.0% in 2013, 18.1% in 2012 and again in 2011, 18.8% in 2010, and 24.2% in 2009.

Roughly 36% of respondents say their 2015 drop-off-service business was unchanged from the previous year. That’s compared to approximately 55% reported in 2014.


Current drop-off-service pricing (in dollars per pound) ranges between 50 cents to $2, based on the survey responses.

Following is a breakdown of the most popular drop-off-service prices (per pound), followed by the percentage of operators who use them:

  1. $1 (31.8%)
  2. 99 cents or $1.15 (tie, 13.6% each)

Overall prices for drop-off service remain consistent with previous years’ figures. In total, 11 different drop-off-service prices were reported in this year’s survey.

Roughly 51% of operators who took the annual survey offer drop-off service, compared to the approximately 66% who responded to last year’s poll.


Vending sales business (in gross dollar volume) declined from the previous survey. Approximately 38% of respondents reported their sales increasing in 2015, down from 51.9% of respondents in 2014. Ten percent reported a decline in vending sales business in 2015, while 52.5% say vending sales were unchanged last year.

The average vending sales increase was 11.2%, up from 2014 (7.4%). The average vending sales decrease in 2015 was 15.5%, significantly larger than 2014’s 6.8% average dip.

Check back Thursday for Part 2, including trends in wash/dry pricing

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/blackred)

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