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.
HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?
Respondents were asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Roughly 53% of operators—a bit less than the 63% in the 2020 survey—offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $1.25 to $4.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentages of respondents using them:
1. $3 and $2 (tie, 22.6%)
3. $2.50 (16.1%)
2021 prices for a top loader compare favorably to the most popular prices of last year, although some shuffling has occurred. What had been the top price, $2.50, is now ranked below $2 and $3, each of which tied for third last year.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $3.50
- 20 pounds: $3
- 25 pounds: $3
The lowest price reported in this group is $1.25 (18 pounds) while the highest price is $4.59 (25 pounds).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2.75 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4 (23.4%)
2. $4.25 (21.3%)
3. $3.75 (14.9%)
The price range for a 35-pound wash is $2.50 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 35-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4.50 (30%)
2. $4 (20%)
3. $5 (16%)
The price range for a 40-pound wash is $2.75 to $6.50. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4.50, $5 and $5.50 (tie, 17.1%)
4. $4.75 (14.6%)
The price range for a 50-pound wash is $3 to $7.50. Following are the most popular 50-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $5.25 (21.1%)
2. $5.50 and $6 (tie, 15.8%)
Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $5.50 to $7.
Of all the washer capacities, the 30-pounder (16 different base prices) and the 60-pounder (15 prices) have the broadest pricing.
The price range for a 60-pound wash is $3.50 to $9. Following are the most popular 60-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $6.50 (19.1%)
2. $7 (14.9%)
3. $7.50 (12.8%)
Prices charged by operators for a 75-pound wash today range from $7.25 to $9.
The price range for an 80-pound wash is $7 to $12.25. Following are the most popular 80-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $8.50 (20%)
2. $8.75 (16%)
3. $9 and $9.75 (tie, 12%)
Prices charged by operators for a 90-pound wash today range from $9.75 to $11.
Operators who respond to our unscientific survey vary year to year, which may reflect upon the variety of prices reported. Respondents were asked to provide prices for front loaders of 14 traditional capacities, plus had the option to list others.
Operators were asked to list their current prices for their dryers as “25 cents for X minutes.” As in previous years, a variety of responses was reported.
Most popular among this year’s respondents—at 27.1%—is 25 cents for 6 minutes (also the top choice in the previous four surveys). Second is 25-for-5 (23.7%) and third is 25-for-7 (22%). Missing from this year’s order of most popular dryer prices was 25-for-4, which was third in last year’s survey.
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2021, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (47.5%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by year’s end. Twenty-two percent say they have no such plans, and the remaining 30.5% are undecided.
Regarding dryer prices, 59.3% say they have not raised prices, nor do they plan to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 12% say they have raised, or plan to raise, their dryer prices. The remaining 28.8% are undecided.
In the conclusion on Thursday: Equipment purchasing trends; annual predictions
If you missed any earlier parts, you can read them HERE: Part 1 — Part 2