CHICAGO — This time a year ago, the self-service laundry industry was feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, an isolation-causing crisis that left many service businesses reeling. Certain industry performance numbers were the lowest they’d been in more than a decade.
But even from the valley, one can see the next peak. Our industry bounced back in a big way in 2021, according to American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry Survey report, and nearly 87% of operators polled say their total business improved last year.
The State of the Industry survey report provides a litany of statistics valuable to store owners and investors. This year’s survey focused on 2021-22 business conditions, pricing, equipment, turns per day and utilities cost.
When asked about their 2021 business results, respondents were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged. (Surveys conducted prior to 2012 asked only if 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
Nearly 62% of operators surveyed reported that drop-off service business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2021, compared to 34% in 2020, 54% in 2019, 58% in 2018, 68% in 2017 and 61% in 2016.
The average increase in drop-off service business last year was 30.4%, compared to 14.2% in 2020, 21.0% in 2019, 29.8% in 2018, 26.1% in 2017 and 18% in 2016.
Just 2.6% of respondents saw a decrease in 2021 drop-off business, compared to 51% in 2020, 12% in 2019, 10% in 2018, 16% in 2017 and 6.5% in 2016.
Roughly 36% of respondents say their 2021 drop-off business was unchanged from the previous year. That compares to 20% for 2020, 34% for 2019, 32% for 2018, 16% for 2017 and 35% for 2016.
Current drop-off pricing (in dollars per pound) ranges from $1.50 to $3.50, 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 charge them:
- $1.50 (19.4%)
- $1 and $1.75 (tie, 11.1% each)
Overall, prices for drop-off service remain fairly consistent with previous years’ surveys. In total, 17 different drop-off prices were reported in this year’s survey.
Sixty-five percent of operators who took the annual poll offer drop-off service, which closely matches the share from last year’s survey.
Among store owners who offer commercial laundry services (the share was 48.3% this year), 51.7% reported that business (in gross dollar volume) increased for them in 2021. The average increase was 24.3%.
No one taking the survey reported a decline in commercial laundry business. Roughly 48% of respondents say their 2021 business was unchanged from the previous year.
The share of respondents reporting their vending sales rose in 2021 was 65.3%, compared to 27.3% the previous year. The average vending sales increase last year was 14%.
Just 8.2% reported declines in vending sales in 2021, compared to 39% for 2020. The average decrease in 2021 was 26.3%.
Operators reporting no change for 2021 accounted for 26.5%, compared to 34.1% in the prior year’s survey.
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 3.4, which is slightly higher than the average logged in last year’s survey. For front loaders, the average number is 4.6 turns per day, compared to 4.2 registered in 2021.
Coming Tuesday in Part 3: Wash and dry vend pricing trends
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].