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.
HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?
Respondents were asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Roughly 62% of operators, compared to 53% last year, offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $1.75 to $4.25.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentages of respondents charging them:
1. $3 (26.5%)
2. $2 (20.6%)
3. $2.50 (17.6%)
These popular prices basically mirror those reported last year. The clear No. 1 this year is $3, which had tied with $2 as the top choice last year.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $3
- 20 pounds: $2.50
- 25 pounds: $3.50
The lowest price reported in this group was $1.75 (18 pounds) while the highest price was $5.25 (20 pounds).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $3 to $6.50. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
1. $3.75 and $4.50 (tie, 14.6% each)
3. $5.00 (12.2%)
The price range for a 35-pound wash is $4.50 to $6, with the most popular price charged being $4.75.
The price range for a 40-pound wash is $4.25 to $7.50. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
1. $5 (16.3%)
2. $4.75 (14.3%)
3. $6 (12.2%)
The price range for a 50-pound wash is $4.50 to $8. Following are the most popular 50-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
1. $5.50 (29.4%)
2. $5.75 and $6.25 (tie, 17.6% each)
Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $6.25 to $8.44.
Among all the washer capacities, the 20-pounder (15 different base prices), 40-pounder (17 prices) and 60-pounder (19 prices) have the broadest pricing.
The price range for a 60-pound wash is $5 to $9.50. Following are the most popular 60-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who charge them:
1. $7.50 (20%)
2. $6.50 (12%)
3. $6.75 (10%)
Prices charged by operators for a 75-pound wash today range from $8.50 to $10.
The price range for an 80-pound wash is $7 to $12.50. Following are the most popular 80-pound prices, along with percentages of operators who charge them:
1. $8.50 (17.9%)
2. $10 (14.3%)
3. $9 (10.7%)
Prices charged by operators for a 90-pound wash today range from $10.25 to $15. For a 100-pound wash, the price range is $7.75 to $12.
Operators who respond to our unscientific survey vary year to year, which could account for 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 27.5%—is 25 cents for 6 minutes (also the top choice in the previous five surveys). Second is 25-for-5 (26.1%), and third is 25-for-4 (10.1%). Missing from this year’s order of most popular dryer prices was 25-for-7, which was third in last year’s survey.
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2022, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (71.7%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by year’s end. Roughly 13% say they have no such plans, and the remaining 15% are undecided.
As for dryer prices, 44.1% say they have not raised prices, nor do they plan to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 36% say they have raised, or plan to raise, their dryer prices. Roughly 17% are undecided, and the remaining 3.4% say the question doesn’t apply to them because they offer “free dry.”
Coming Thursday in the conclusion: Equipment purchasing trends, and annual predictions
If you missed any earlier parts, you can read them here: Part 1 — Part 2
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].