CHICAGO — Most of us have never experienced a year like 2020. The coronavirus pandemic gripped the world and COVID-19 became a part of our daily lives. And as you’ll see in this annual State of the Industry Survey report, the self-service laundry business wasn’t immune to its economic impact.
We have to go back more than a decade, to our 2009-10 survey following the Great Recession, to find certain industry performance numbers as low.
But there’s reason to hold out hope, to believe the decline is a “blip” caused by a pandemic that government and healthcare officials are striving to end sometime this year. Many respondents to this year’s survey say their business performance will improve in 2021.
American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey report provides a litany of statistics valuable to store owners and investors. This year’s survey focused on 2020-21 business conditions, pricing, equipment, turns per day and utilities cost.
When asked about their 2020 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 comparisons to results of that vintage.
The survey is an unscientific, online poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.
DROP-OFF SERVICE AND PRICING
Roughly 34% of operators reported that drop-off service business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2020, compared to 54% in 2019, 58% in 2018, 68% in 2017 and 61% in 2016.
The average increase in drop-off service business last year was 14.2%, compared to 21.0% in 2019, 29.8% in 2018, 26.1% in 2017 and 18% in 2016.
Approximately 51% of respondents saw a decrease in drop-off business. That compares to 12% in 2019, 10% in 2018, 16% in 2017 and 6.5% in 2016.
The average decline in drop-off service business in 2020 was 29.1%, compared to 18.2% in 2019. Other previous average declines were 17.3% in 2018, 7.8% in 2017, 15% in 2016 and 16% in 2015.
Roughly 20% of respondents say their 2020 drop-off business was unchanged from the previous year. That compares to 34% for 2019, 32% for 2018, 16% for 2017 and 35% for 2016.
Current drop-off pricing (in dollars per pound) ranges from $0.41 to $1.75, 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. $1.00 and $1.25 (tie, 15.8% each)
3. $1.50 (13.2%)
Overall prices for drop-off service remain relatively consistent with previous years’ surveys. In total, 16 different drop-off prices were reported in this year’s survey.
Roughly 64% of operators who took the annual survey offer drop-off service, eight percentage points higher than last year’s survey.
Among store owners who offer commercial laundry services (this year, the share was 40.7%), 28.0% reported that business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2020. The average increase was 31.0%.
Forty-four percent of respondents saw a decrease in this category, the average drop being 43.9%.
Thirty-six percent of respondents say their 2020 commercial laundry business was unchanged from the previous year.
The share of respondents reporting their vending sales increased in 2020 was 27.3%, down from 44.9% the previous year. Nearly 39% reported declines in vending sales in 2020, compared to 16% for 2019. Operators reporting no change for 2020 accounted for 34.1%, compared to 40.8% in the prior year’s survey.
The average vending sales increase was 10%. The average decrease in 2020 was 27.5%.
TURNS PER DAY
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.
At present, the average turns per day for top loaders amongst respondents is 3.3, which is identical to last year’s survey. For front loaders, the average number is 4.2 turns per day, compared to 3.6 registered in last year’s survey.
In Part 3 on Tuesday: Washer and dryer vend pricing trends
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.