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2019-20 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry (Part 2)

53.7% of store owners saw higher drop-off service biz last year

CHICAGO — How do you know if you stack up favorably with other laundry owners across town and around the country? Would you consider 2019 a good year or bad year for you? Are your vend prices in line with those of other store owners?

Answers to questions like these and more can be found in American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey report, which provides store owners and operators a valuable opportunity to compare their operation to others in the industry.

This year’s survey focused on 2019-20 business conditions, pricing, equipment, turns per day and utilities cost.

(Special note: Polling was conducted prior to the March 13 coronavirus pandemic emergency declaration and related work-from-home and other measures that followed that may have adversely impacted laundry business volume.)

When asked about their 2019 business results, respondents were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged. Surveys conducted prior to 2012 asked respondents only if their business was up or down, so keep this in mind if you’re making comparions to results of that vintage.

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


Drop-off service remains a popular service offering, but the share of operators seeing increased business in that category was not quite as high as the prior year.

Roughly 54% of operators reported that drop-off service business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2019, compared to 58% in 2018, 68% in 2017, 61% in 2016 and 52% in 2015.

The average increase in drop-off service business last year was 21.0%, compared to 29.8% in 2018, 26.1% in 2017, 18% in 2016 and 13.7% in 2015.

Slightly more than 12% of respondents saw a decrease in drop-off business. That compares to 10% in 2018, 16% in 2017, 6.5% in 2016 and 15% in 2015.

The average decline in drop-off service business in 2019 was 18.2%, compared to 17.3% in 2018. Other previous average declines have been 7.8% in 2017, 15% in 2016, 16% in 2015, 11.3% in 2014, 9.0% in 2013, 18.1% in 2012, 18.1% in 2011 and 18.8% in 2010.

Roughly 34% of respondents say their 2019 drop-off business was unchanged from the previous year. That compares to 32% for 2018, 16% for 2017, 35% for 2016 and 36% for 2015.


Current drop-off pricing (in dollars per pound) ranges from $1 to $2.25, 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. $1.25 (30.3%)

2. $1 and $1.50 (tie, 12.1%)

4. $1.35 (9%)

Overall prices for drop-off service remain relatively consistent with previous years’ surveys. In total, 15 different drop-off prices were reported in this year’s survey (compared to 10 reported in last year’s poll).

Roughly 56% of operators who took the annual survey offer drop-off service, just a percentage point less than the share calculated in last year’s poll.


Among store owners who offer commercial laundry services (this year, the share was 50.8%), 33.3% reported that business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2019. The average increase was 12.9%.

Ten percent of respondents saw a decrease in this category. The average drop in business was 13.3%

Roughly 57% of respondents say their 2019 commercial laundry business was unchanged from the previous year.


Turns per day refers to the number of cycles (turns) that each of a store’s machines completes daily. For each machine class (top loader or front loader), you can calculate this using total cycles for a one-week period divided by total number of machines in the class, then dividing by seven.

Currently, the average turns per day for top loaders amongst respondents is 3.3, down slightly from last year’s survey (3.5). For front loaders, the average number is 3.6 turns per day, compared to 3.5 registered in last year’s survey.


The share of respondents reporting their vending sales increased in 2019 was 44.9%, down from roughly 56% last year. Nearly 17% reported a decline in vending sales in 2019, compared to 10% for 2018. Operators reporting no change in vending sales for 2019 accounted for 40.8%, compared to 33.3% in the prior year’s survey.

The average vending sales increase was 14.3%, which matched 2018’s average hike. The average decrease in 2019 was 11.4%, compared to 6.9% reported for 2018.

Coming in Part 3 on Tuesday: Washer and dryer vend pricing trends

Miss previous parts of this story? You can read them here:

Part 1 — Audience breakdown; 2019 business vs. 2018


fingers walking on stacks of coins

(Photo: © hin255/Depositphotos)

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